Uber Facing Criminal Probe Over Software Used to Identify Driving Regulation Officials

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 5, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Uber found itself in more hot water on Thursday after Reuters revealed that the ride-hailing service is facing a criminal investigation by the U.S. government.

    The Department of Justice has reportedly begun an investigation over the company's use of "secret" software that allowed its drivers to operate in areas where Uber was banned or restricted.

    First reported by The New York Times, the so-called "greyball" software is said to have allowed the company to identify officials seeking to prevent the service from running. It is claimed the software was used in several areas including Portland and Oregon, where the service was still waiting for approval to operate.

    Transport regulation officials regularly posed as passengers in those regions where Uber had yet to obtain approval, in an effort to prove that Uber was operating illegally. The software was used to work out who was an undercover official and would attempt to block them from booking rides in the first place.

    Uber has already admitted to using the software. In a letter sent to Portland transport regulators last week, the company said it used greyball "exceedingly sparingly" in the city, but had not used it since April 2015 when it received permission to operate.

    Uber has also previously defended its use of the software by claiming that it helped the company limit fraud and protect its drivers from harm. The company prohibited the use of the software for identifying officials shortly after the New York Times report brought the practice to light.

    The nature of any potential federal criminal violation, and the likelihood of anyone being charged, remains unclear because the investigation is still in its early stages, according to sources. However, Uber has reportedly received a subpoena from a Northern California grand jury seeking documents concerning how the software tool functioned and where it was deployed. A subpoena indicates that an official criminal investigation is underway.

    Uber has come under increasing pressure on several fronts in recent months following several controversies. Concerns were first raised late last year when users complained that the app appeared to track them for days or even weeks after they last used the ride-hailing service.

    Recently it emerged that Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to pull Uber's app from the App Store in early 2015 after discovering that it was secretly "fingerprinting" iPhones that used the app. The revelation came in a New York Times article published last month that detailed the ride-hailing service's history of controversial business tactics.

    Article Link: Uber Facing Criminal Probe Over Software Used to Identify Driving Regulation Officials
  2. Adam Warlock macrumors regular

    Adam Warlock

    Jun 22, 2016
    It's hard to think of a more underhanded, slimy company than Uber in recent memory.
  3. thisisnotmyname macrumors 68000


    Oct 22, 2014
    known but velocity indeterminate
    and yet I still prefer them to taxis. Says a lot about taxis. (and me I guess)
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Good, I find their tactics and lack of remorse to be so distasteful. I'm glad they're underhanded methods are coming back to haunt them
  5. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Worst possible case for Uber: Google decides to ban their app from the Google store, based on the likely fact that Uber stole trade secrets about self driving cars from Google, and Apple asks its reviewers to take a very close look at the Uber app, and removes it from the app store as well. Good bye, Uber.
  6. jamface macrumors regular


    Jan 25, 2016
    Convicted Murderer: "Sorry, Your Honour, I only tried to kill her up until she died. Since then I haven't tried to kill her even once.

    Also, I only killed her because I didn't like the way she was running away from me down the alleyway. It really annoyed me. And I didn't know that it was wrong to kill her, but now that I've been caught I won't do it again."
  7. nwcs macrumors 68000


    Sep 21, 2009
    Up-end the taxi industry is fine. Just do it the honest, ethical way. Remember Uber: pride comes before the fall.
  8. JRobinsonJr macrumors 6502a

    Aug 20, 2015
    Arlington, Texas
    Sadly I would agree! Don't use Uber much, but find it significantly easier / less expensive / more pleasant / etc. than a taxi. I do, however, wish they were more ... straight up. That said, not sure I understand why this is a FEDERAL issue. Regulatory control is a state/city issue.
  9. Glassed Silver macrumors 68020

    Glassed Silver

    Mar 10, 2007
    Kassel, Germany
    Unter aller Sau!

    Glassed Silver:ios
  10. PilotC150 macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2015
    Probably because they can under the Commerce Clause. Since Uber is based in California and this issue is in Oregon, it's an inter-state issue.
  11. Sill macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2014
    Because it involved the internet, so I'm sure some enterprising dead-eyed parasite at FTC or wherever said "ah! this involves interstate commerce!" and brought an investigation.

    I have never used Uber, and will never use them or any other ride sharing service, so I have no reason to defend them. I've not paid much attention to them as a result, so I've not heard much about their ethics other than rumblings here. With that said, I think its brilliant that they came up with a way to go around regulations and provide service to willing customers. Government regulations rarely if ever benefit the common citizen, rather they exist to protect cronies and increase the scope of government along with taxes and fees.
  12. PilotC150 macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2015
    You're right. The fact that we have clean air and water doesn't benefit the common citizen at all. It's strictly to line the pockets of the politicians. :rolleyes:
  13. Sill macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2014

    So, you're saying that was impossible without government intervention? My eyes can't roll that far back in my head. Ow.
  14. PilotC150 macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2015
    Not impossible at all. But without the government regulations the big corporations wouldn't have spent the money to do it. They would have continued to dump garbage into the lakes and rivers, because it's cheaper that way.
  15. M.PaulCezanne macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2014
    Something tells me this isn't the last criminal probe related to this company and its founder.
  16. burgman macrumors 68000


    Sep 24, 2013
    People who post such silly bumper sticker slogans really have no clue. All they need to do is some historical research but that would require effort. Rivers catching fire, acid rain, coal slurry ponds leaking, no food labels, worker protections, the list goes on. And yes forcing powerful non caring people to change requires power that the common man only has in government. We are about to learn that lesson again.
  17. itsmilo macrumors 68020


    Sep 15, 2016
    Sure. But they would charge you 1,99 for a can of water. Just look at Nestle
  18. rizzo41999 macrumors 6502


    May 27, 2009
  19. Rigby macrumors 601

    Aug 5, 2008
    San Jose, CA
    Yes, I'm sure Volkswagen would have voluntarily stopped blowing high amounts of NOx into the air without government intervention. But what's a little lung cancer as long as the corporations can do as they want, right?
  20. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Goldman Sachs and Barclays, among others, come to mind when they caused the housing market to burst with their illegal securities and thrust our entire country into a recession while I was in college. This meant I could no longer secure a college loan on my own and when I was able to convince my parents to cosign (we don't have a good relationship because my parents have mental health issues), my rates went from 5-7% to 12-14%, and many times I couldn't find work because of all the people older than me who were now working typical college student jobs. This meant that my credit card debt went up as I was basically living off student loans and credit cards to eat and have an apartment, but eventually I was able to start doing some freelance as I got better at design. Tuition also went up year after year until it was frozen for years after the end of my time in school. Then, when I graduated, it was still pretty difficult to find work. Took years to get that all sorted, refinanced/consolidated and get my credit scores back up.

    I hate Uber as much as the next guy and think they're a terrible company filled with misogynistic asses, but let's not kid ourselves about how horrible some of these other U.S. financial companies are. It's especially important to be cognizant of this now as many financial industry regulations are going to be rolled back under the new administration. We could end up back in the same place in the not so distant future. Sorry for the rant, but I just wanted to give some context—especially for some of those on the forums who are younger and don't remember the crap that went down nearly 10 years ago. You know the saying—those who don't know their history are bound to repeat it, etc. As someone towards the older end of the millennial generation, I'm just disappointed that many of these new startups created by people around my age are heading in the same direction as those companies that screwed us over. Just goes to show that people will tend to be greedy and selfish in any generation. Just because I'm a new generation doesn't mean I'm any better. It's up to us to decide to make a change—otherwise the cycle will repeat ad infinitum and we will carry forward the sins of our fathers.
  21. IBoB1973 macrumors newbie


    Aug 16, 2015
    ÜT: 39.914083,-83.827941
    uber is complete garbage the app should have been pulled when they pulled the last stunt
  22. SoN1NjA macrumors 68000


    Feb 3, 2016
    the pool
  23. IBoB1973 macrumors newbie


    Aug 16, 2015
    ÜT: 39.914083,-83.827941

    Exactly this

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