The U.S. Department of Justice has started investigating into Uber inc, for using software and tools that allowed drivers to escape from local transportation authorities and regulators.
The software named “Greyball” was used to identify the government officials who were searching for Uber drivers in the areas where the services were not allowed, areas such as; Oregon and Portland were included in the restricted areas, Uber acknowledged that they have used this software to avoid authorities.
Interestingly, Uber stopped and banned using Greyball soon after they realized that it has been unveiled by New York Times in March, this story contributed towards the negative publicity of the company.
The negative publicity of the company is all over the news in the past year. Uber is facing too many problems in various countries. This probe can be another blow to Uber who is currently facing business and legal issues all over the world where it serves.
According to reuters Uber’s spokesperson declined to comment on the issue, Uber lawyers admitted in letters to authorities that the Greyball technology was being used in the restricted areas where the service was not approved during 2015.
It is still unclear whether this probe fall in federal criminal violation or anyone will be charged, because the investigation is in early stages yet. Bloomberg reported last week in which it did not identify this case a criminal.
Uber has received a request from grand jury of Northern California concerning the documents to be provided about the software tool, how it worked, where it was deployed and all the details regarding software, this indicated that the criminal investigation is underway.
Uber is a venture capital backed company and valued currently at $68 billion. Uber has a reputation of aggressive startup and gone through several controversies in the past few months.
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Uber said that Greyball software identifies the real location of Uber cars in different circumstances such as possibility of threats or just to test the features,
This program was the part of Uber system that could cover wider perspectives such as; credit card analysis, location data, device identification, violation of terms of service and other factors to check the genuine and fake requests.
According to the Ubers official blog post, the technology was used to protect drivers from harm and prevent fraud.
Employees also revealed that Greyball technology was also used to identify officials to avoid fines, confiscation of cars and suspension of Uber service where it was not allowed.
The company used the Greyball technology in December 2014, when it was operating without approval, this was of great concern for Uber at that time because the drivers might get financially penalized or charged with other offenses could damage the overall operations of the company, said Uber