Uber used software to block cops in cities where it was prohibited

Uber used software to block cops in cities where it was prohibited

Uber used software to block cops in cities where it was prohibited

Uber has been using a tool called "Greyball" to identify authorities in markets where the ride-hailing service is curtailed or outright banned by regional rules. This program aims to address legitimate concerns such riders who may intend to harm drivers and competing services looking to interfere with Uber rides, but it also blocks law enforcement in an effort to avoid getting ticketed or apprehended for violating taxi regulations or operating illegally.

Uber's use of Greyball was revealed by four former and current anonymous Uber employees and was confirmed in a recorded video from 2014. The use of this program began in 2014 and is still used mostly outside the country of the U.S. Greyball was a part of the VTOS program by Uber which stands for "violation of terms of service". But their app would be a fake; the triangular symbols on a map that indicates where Uber cars are located, for the officials, would be "ghost cars".

While Uber has responded with literal tears to some of those revelations, the company appeared wholly unrepentant when asked about the Greyball program, suggesting it was the fault of those who enforce the actual law for violating Uber's self-authored terms and conditions.

A few months ago, Uber required users to provide permission to track them all the time, even when they were not using the app.

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Whenever someone tagged in that manner tries to call a vehicle, a fake version of the app would show a set of ghost cars that can not be booked, or the app would show no cars at all.

Even as Uber operates legally in Portland today, officials still summon Uber drivers through its app to conduct code enforcement, which includes making sure the drivers are properly permitted, insured and qualified to drive for hire. If officials hailed these imaginary cars, the ride would mysteriously get cancelled before they got picked up.

The New York Times has reported on Greyball claiming it also identifies unwanted users by checking their credit card information, social media profiles and other online information.

Reportedly, Uber managers in a particular city would identify the locations of city government offices and monitor users who used the apps in those areas.

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Uber drivers at times are assaulted due to the sting operations as they are called.

About the Uber secret program accusation, the company conveniently denies it in a statement. It also scanned credit card information to see whether the cards might belong to someone in law enforcement.

Finally, Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on a camera in an confrontation with an Uber driver.

Greyball came to light because two anonymous sources described it to New York Times reporter Mike Isaacs.

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In a statement, Uber acknowledged its practice of greyballing, which it said was meant to target fraud and abuse.

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