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Uber used secret tool to evade authorities for years

Staff Writer |
Uber Technologie for years has used a secret tool to avoid authorities in markets where its service faced resistance by law enforcement or was banned, the company confirmed.

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The New York Times first reported the existence of the program, called Greyball, which uses data from the Uber app and other methods to identify and circumvent officials who aimed to ticket or apprehend drivers in cities that opposed its operations.

Rides hailed from a location near a city enforcement agency suspected of launching a sting to trap Uber drivers could be ignored or canceled, for instance, the Times report said.

The tool allowed Uber to show images of "ghost" Uber cars on the app or show that no cars were available, according to the newspaper, in order to deceive authorities.

Officials in certain cities without a legal framework for ride services have aimed to ticket, tow and impound the cars.

A spokeswoman for Uber said Greyball was still in use, though scaled back.

It grew out of an effort to protect the app from disruption by competitors and drivers from abuse and, in more rare cases, was also used where there were enforcement stings, she said.

Meanwhile, Uber's security researcher and vice president of product and growth resigned on Friday, without giving reasons.


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