Economy

Uber Used 'Greyball' Software to Evade 16 Government Officials, Portland Probe Finds

Uber Used 'Greyball' Software to Evade 16 Government Officials, Portland Probe Finds”

Following months of reports regarding Uber's use of "Greyball" software, an investigation by the city of Portland, Oregon, found that the ride-sharing company used that software to evade 16 government officials. If the data suggests the new user is a regulator in a market where Uber is not permitted, the company would present that user with false information about where Uber rides are. Despite the court's ruling, however, it does not appear that Uber will be subjected to any fines or other legal penalties for its actions.

Portland found that when Uber started operating in the city in December 2014, the company used Greyball to block 17 rider accounts, 16 of which belonged to government officials, and deny 29 ride requests by city transportation enforcement officers.

We reported back in May that the Justice Department had commenced a criminal investigation into Uber's use of a software tool that helped drivers evade picking up local officials in places where the service had not been approved. "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".

According to the report, Uber allegedly used this software to block known transportation regulators from using its service in multiple cities, including Portland, Las Vegas, Boston, Paris and others.

The software allowed Uber to tag individual accounts, so that the user would not see any rides available.

Following the Times story, Uber acknowledged the existence of Greyball and said it would put a stop to using the technology to target regulators.

City commissioner Dan Saltzman said they didn't find any evidence that Uber is still greyballing authorities, which means that (in the city, at least) Uber has stayed true to its promise that it won't use the tool anymore.



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