Uber's secret 'Hell' program spied on Lyft drivers — and the CEO reportedly knew about it

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Uber is living in the hell it created.

The ride-sharing company has been rocked with scandals the last few months: sexual harassment allegations, labor protests, hundreds of thousands of users deleting the app, a damning leaked video of its CEO, a mass exodus of employees in leadership, an evading-the-law problem and even a murder problem.

The latest news for Uber's unimaginably busy PR team (which just lost its head of communications) involves the shady practice of spying on its rival.

The Informationreported that between 2014 and 2016, Uber was using a secret program — aptly named "Hell" — to track the availability of Lyft drivers and pinpoint which of its drivers were working for both companies. As the Information noted, more than 60% of Lyft drivers "in many cities" drive for Uber as well. (When I interviewed about a dozen Uber drivers following the #DeleteUber campaign, nearly all of them were driving for at least one other ride-sharing app.)

"If you delete the Uber app, you still need a ride, right?" a driver from Pakistan told Mic in February. "So you're going to go to the Lyft or other company, right? Drivers pick up the other way. They pick up the Lyft customers. ... Before, it was different. If you were telling me before, a year ago or eight months ago, most drivers only used one app."

RELATED: Photos of controversial Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick speaks to students during an interaction at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Mumbai, India, January 19, 2016.

(REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui)

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick gestures as he addresses a gathering during a conference of start-up businesses in New Delhi, India, January 16, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Chief Executive Officer of Uber Travis Kalanick and Gabi Holzwarth arrive at the Google, HBO and the Smithsonian?s American Art Museum ?Celebration of Creativity? cocktail party to celebrate the White House Correspondents' Association dinner weekend in Washington, U.S., April 29, 2016.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick attends the summer World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China, June 26, 2016.

(REUTERS/Shu Zhang)

India?s Minister of Law and Information and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad shakes hands with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, December 15, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Travis Kalanick works with fourth graders during Cooking Matters, a nutrition class taught by 18 Reasons, a local partner of Share our Strength at Glen Park Elementary School in San Francisco, California, December 10, 2014.

(REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Travis Kalanick (2nd R) works with fourth graders during Cooking Matters, a nutrition class taught by 18 Reasons, a local partner of Share our Strength at Glen Park Elementary School in San Francisco, California, December 10, 2014.

(REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Dieter Zetsche, chief executive officer of Daimler AG, left, and Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., listen before speaking during the Noah technology conference in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. The conference, one of the tech industry's premier events, was launched in 2009 and runs June 8-9.

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of US transportation company Uber Travis Kalanick at an event in New Delhi.

(Photo by Ramesh Sharma/India Today Group/Getty Images)

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks as Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., listens during the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University in Stanford, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 23, 2016. The annual event brings together entrepreneurs from around the world for 3 days of networking, workshops and conferences.

(David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., looks on during the Noah technology conference in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. The conference, one of the tech industry's premier events, was launched in 2009 and runs June 8-9.

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Uber founder Travis Kalanick attends 'Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology', the 2016 Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2016 in New York, New York.

(Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

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Reportedly, Uber used data from its "Hell" program to push rides to drivers who were working for both Uber and Lyft — a program they called "privileged dispatch," a source told the Information. Uber also offered drivers financial incentives once they hit a certain number of rides per week, which enticed them to monopolize their time on the app.

Aside from using this data to target its own employees, Uber was able to use the program to view where Lyft drivers were located, how many were available to pick up a ride and the prices for these trips — all in nearly real time.

Creating the fake Lyft rider accounts, which is how Uber was able to access this information, is a violation of Lyft's terms of service, as the Information pointed out.

According to the report, CEO Travis Kalanick was aware of this program along with "a small group of Uber employees." Kalanick came under fire in February after aBloombergreportrevealed a video of him yelling at an Uber driver. The CEO, who amid all of the controversy plans to maintain his seat at the top of the company, issued an apology saying that he "must fundamentally change and grow up." But the growing Rolodex of public missteps doesn't inspire confidence in Kalanick's ability to lead a team with integrity.

The term "Hell" itself plays off of Uber's "God View" or "Heaven" program, which allows the company to spy on its drivers and riders. The program was reportedly cut in early 2016.

This isn't Uber's first time surveilling drivers without their knowledge. In late 2015, the company monitored its own drivers' road habits — without notifying them — using the accelerometer on their phones in order to identify unsafe drivers.

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