Uber used secret tool to deceive authorities: NY Times


(Reuters) - Ride hailing company Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] has for years used a secret tool to deceive the authorities in markets where its service faced resistance by law enforcement or was banned, the New York Times reported, citing sources.

An Uber tool called Greyball used data collected from the Uber app and other methods to find and circumvent officials, the NYT reported on Friday. http://nyti.ms/2mmTS88

Asked about the existence of Greyball, Uber said in an email, "This program denies ride requests to fraudulent users who are violating our terms of service — whether that's people aiming to physically harm drivers, competitors looking to disrupt our operations, or opponents who collude with officials on secret 'stings' meant to entrap drivers."

A current Uber employee familiar with the program confirmed to Reuters that Uber had used antifraud techniques to hunt for suspected undercover law enforcement and regulators. The person said Greyball had not been used in the United States in more than a year.

The New York Times said Uber used the methods to evade authorities in cities including Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.

Greyball, which began as early as 2014, was part of a program called "Violation of terms of service" (VTOS), aimed at finding people the ride-hailing company thought were using the app improperly, the newspaper reported.

Greyball and the broader VTOS program were described by four current and former Uber employees, who also provided documents, the NYT said.

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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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(Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)


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