U.S. authorities are investigating Uber over allegations the company spied on its ride-sharing competitor Lyft, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Friday.
Internally known as “Hell” software, Uber reportedly sought data of its little brother competitor, including the prices of their rides, how many drivers were available at a particular point in time, and who was “double dipping” by working for both companies. The FBI and Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office are leading the probe into the “Hell” program. The investigators want to know if the employment of such a technology amounted to unauthorized access of a computer, TheWSJ reports.
The name “Hell” is likely a converse reference to another once-secret feature called “God View” (also known as “Heaven”), which reportedly allowed employees to follow customers in real time without their consent.
A whistleblower announced in December he was suing Uber, his former employer. Along with his accusations of wrongful employment, he accused fellow Uber workers of using the “Heaven” software to spy on customers, including “high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.”
But that is just two of the three secret programs it uses, and only a relative glimpse into legal problems Uber is currently entangled in. (RELATED: Former Lyft Driver Sues Uber For Allegedly Spying On Him Through ‘Hell’ Software)
Local and national governments also accused Uber of evading authorities and circumventing regulations by using a secretive proprietary tool called “Greyball,” according to The New York Times. Uber said soon after The NYT report that it would ditch the program, which was designed to help the company detect and avoid undercover law enforcement officials, and pinpoint competitors who were trying to disrupt its platform.
Uber is also intertwined in a lawsuit with the tech giant Google, which accuses a former employee of stealing thousands of proprietary digital blueprints and taking it to start his own company. Uber eventually acquired that startup, which focuses on self-driving technology, involving itself in the legal mess. After more information surfaced through the court proceedings, a U.S. judge called for a federal investigation along with the already ongoing civil suit.
And these issues are only the tip of the iceberg for a battered company, which is still highly valued despite the setbacks. Roughly a couple months after former-CEO Travis Kalanick was pushed out of the company he started for a string of apparent embarrassments, the board of executives selected former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to take over the helm of the embattled tech conglomerate. (RELATED: Dismissed Uber CEO: I’ll Be Back, I’m Just ‘Steve Jobs-ing It’)
Uber did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment by time of publication.
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