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Uber plans to ban 'Greyball' software that dupes regulators



by Joseph Earnest March 9, 2017


Newscast Media NEW YORKThe online ride-hailing service has promised to stop using a tool that tricks regulators trying to catch illegal drivers. The New York Times revealed Uber's "Greyball" software deceived authorities in several countries.      

Uber said it had begun a review of the ways its "Greyball" software was being used, just days after being forced to admit the existence of the tool used to stop unlicensed drivers being caught by undercover regulators.

"We are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward," Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan said in an online post. But he said it would take some time to fully implement the change.

The "New York Times" (NYT) exposed the software nicknamed "Greyball" that identified regulators posing as riders while trying to collect evidence that Uber's service was breaking local laws governing taxis.

The software served up a fake version of Uber's popular app to make it appear the undercover regulators were summoning a car, only to have the ride never show up or canceled.

NYT reported that regulators in several US cities as well as those in Australia, France, China, Italy and South Korea were targeted.

The cat-and-mouse game with regulators is the latest example of the aggressive tactics that Uber has adopted while challenging the heavily regulated taxi industry in dozens of countries.

Uber said the tool was only used to deter passengers who were harassing or threatening its drivers.

Uber's expansion has led to protests from traditional taxi services who are often heavily regulated

"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," Sullivan said in the post.

The San Francisco-headquartered company said it would also respond to city officials who have been inquiring whether their regulators were being greyballed.

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Source: Deutsche Welle













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