Uber Stops Using 'Greyball' To Hinder Investigations

  • Uber Stops Using 'Greyball' To Hinder Investigations

Uber Stops Using 'Greyball' To Hinder Investigations

"In addition, we are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward", the company stated.

Uber will stop using its "Greyball" tool to evade law enforcement efforts, the ride-hail company announced Wednesday, just days after it defended the controversial program as necessary to protect its drivers from harm. The tool is an app called Greyball and it has been how the company managed to dodge regulations in certain cities for years.

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

In a blog post on Wednesday, Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan revealed that greyballing had been used for a variety of purposes, including testing new features by employees, marketing promotions, fraud prevention, preventing physical harm from befalling drivers, and to deter riders from using the app in violation of its terms of service.

Sullivan steered clear of the worst of the controversy in the short statement, instead touting Greyball's other, more palatable uses.

Uber now says it will ban greyballing undercover regulators, although it may take time to block the program completely.

Uber's efforts to fix its relations with regulators come amid a string of missteps that have sparked consumer backlash and raised investor concern. The blog post even prompted internal investigation.

Then, Bloomberg released a video that showed Kalanick berating a Uber driver who had complained about cuts to rates paid to drivers, resulting in Kalanick making a public apology. Adding to that, at least 3 high level executives have now left Uber in the past couple of weeks. Greyball was part of a program Uber created to help it identify users that violate the terms of service of its app, and preventing them from securing rides. It also comes shortly after the company reversed course on applying for a permit to test self-driving cars in California.

Uber's efforts to rebuild its self-driving program come as the company faces a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc's self-driving vehicle unit, Waymo, which accuses Uber of stealing designs for technology for autonomous cars known as Lidar.