Uber Stops Using 'Greyball' To Hinder Investigations

Uber will no longer use "Greyball" software to prevent investigators from hailing rides with the company, the company said this week.

"We have started a review of the different ways this technology has been used to date. In addition, we are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward," the company stated.

The move came a few days after The New York Times reported on Uber's deployment of Greyball to prevent local investigators from using the service. Uber reportedly examined data like social media profiles and credit card information (including whether the cards were connected to a police credit union) in order to identify government officials. Uber then Greyballed those officials -- which involved serving them "a fake version of the app populated with ghost cars," according to the Times.

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Uber used this technique in cities like Portland, where it was operating without clearance from local officials.

The company said it uses Greyball software in a number of situations. "This technology is used to hide the standard city app view for individual riders, enabling Uber to show that same rider a different version," Uber stated. "It’s been used for many purposes, for example: the testing of new features by employees; marketing promotions; fraud prevention; to protect our partners from physical harm; and to deter riders using the app in violation of our terms of service."

Uber added that its new prohibition on the use of Greyball to hinder regulators won't take effect immediately. "Given the way our systems are configured, it will take some time to ensure this prohibition is fully enforced," Uber said.

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