Uber has been using secret software known as “Hell” to spy on drivers using Lyft, its little brother ride-sharing competitor, according to a new report.
Some of the data Uber reportedly sought includes the prices of rides, how many drivers were available at a particular point, and who was working for both companies. The computer program creates fake Lyft passenger accounts with locations dispersed across a certain area to track as many of the company’s drivers as possible, reports TechCrunch. The title of “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. He accuses Uber workers of using the software to spy on customers, including “high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses.”
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.
The latest revelations of surveillance could be yet another black eye for the company, which has experienced numerous scandals and embarrassments in recent months. Allegations of sexual harassment, systemic sexism, rampant lewd behavior, and cutthroat work culture, as well as a number of various lawsuits, reveal an Uber under pressure from many directions. Following the many apparent missteps, like a videotaped argument between founder Travis Kalanick and a driver, the Uber leader told staffers that he plans on hiring a chief operating officer to help him with leadership responsibilities. (RELATED: Former Uber Employee Writes Incredibly Creept Account Of Her Manager’s Sexual Harrassment)
Lyft appears to be capitalizing on Uber’s woes, as the company announced Tuesday that it collected a total of $600 million in its latest fundraising round. The ride-sharing company reportedly experienced a bump in the U.S. market share after the #deleteUber campaign on Twitter, when people canceled their Uber accounts for a number of reasons, including because Kalanick was originally a member of President Donald Trump’s economic advisory board.
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