Uber used Greyball software to avoid Government Officials

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Portland authorities launched an investigation and City Commissioner Dan Saltzman concluded that Uber Technologies Inc. used Greyball software to intentionally avoid government officials, whose jobs were to regulate ride hailing services, city officials confirmed on Thursday.

According to Reuters, Uber began operating in Portland in 2014, and did not have any permits. Uber created a technology called Greyball software to block the officials from rides. Uber stopped using the software a year later after the company received approval to operate in the city.

The Greyball technology allowed Uber to block or avoid ride requests from locations near law enforcement agencies and users that had credit cards linked to government agencies. It also showed that there were no drivers in the nearby locations.

Portland authorities launched an investigation after the New York Times had reported that Uber used Greyball previously for the same purpose in other regions such as Boston, Las Vegas, and even international locations across Europe and Asia.

Uber acknowledged the creation and use of the Greyball technology and that the company would put an end to it.

Portland authorities concluded that Uber had blocked 17 riders, 16 of which belonged to government officials and denied 29 ride requests by law enforcement officers.

The city did not impose fines or other penalties to Uber, instead ensuring that an incident like Greyball software does not occur again.

“Uber has complied with our subpoena and provided the requested information associated with the Greyball tool,” said City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

“Through this subpoena process, we have a greater understanding of their activities in Portland, and the extent to which the Greyball tool was used here. Moving forward, we have ensured that no attempts to evade regulators or deny service to riders in violation of City code or law will be allowed in the future.”

Portland authorities also investigated Lyft in the matter, but found no evidence linking Lyft to anything.

The conclusion of this case just marks yet another scandal Uber has faced throughout the recent years under former CEO Travis Kalanick. The company is going to need a huge turnaround with new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi.

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