Published: Sat, March 04, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

Uber uses a dubiously legal technology called 'Greyball' to avoid the law

Uber uses a dubiously legal technology called 'Greyball' to avoid the law

But, according to the report, Uber has also been using the program to prevent law enforcement from conducting sting operations or catching the service operating where it shouldn't be. The company also noted users who frequently opened and close the app, which it believed indicated could be activity from government agencies.

Those tools and techniques, the Times writes, "included looking at the user's credit card information and whether that card was tied directly to an institution like a police credit union".

This video from 2014 shows City of Portland code officers unsuccessfully attempting to catch an Uber, which launched without the city's permission in December of that year.

If all else failed, The Times reports, Uber employees searched users on social media to determine their identities. Uber had a way around this, too.

Uber's * a href=", cd_min:2/18/2017, cd_max:3/3/2017&tbm=nws&*" *fortnight of scandal just got a whole lot worse: The New York Times just revealed the existence of an uber-creepy company tool called "Greyball" that tracks the phones of police and hostile local government officials. The thinking, apparently, was that city budgets for this kind of thing are small and officials would be buying the cheapest phones possible.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick shown here probably not thinking about greyballing everyone around him. Greyball worked by tagging known officials and serving up fake versions of the app populated with ghost cars, sources told The New York Times. The app typically displays the location of drivers on screen, which would then be used by the sting operating to identify cars.

Greyball launched as early as 2014 and is still used today, according to the Times report, which cited four current and former Uber employees and internal documents.

Greyball was allegedly created to block requests from riders with a history of violating Uber's terms of service.

Officials, shall we say, are not pleased.

According to the article, the tool started as a way to protect drivers from violent opponents like taxi companies and unions in other countries, and Uber told the paper that that remains the primary objective of the Greyball tool. A video from one such attempted sting documents two drivers canceling on the official - possibly after being identified by Greyball.

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