Uber Says It's Banning Use of 'Greyball' Tool to Foil Regulators

The NYT's report said that Uber used it to monitor and identify app use by regulators and appointed officials who were tasked with catching Uber in the act of violating local transportation rules where Uber's model was prohibited.

In a statement, Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan said the Greyball software allows the company to show individual riders an alternative view of the Uber app.

USA city and worldwide authorities allege Uber has been systematically using a software tool called "Greyball" to elude law enforcement in areas where the ride-sharing service has been banned, according to The New York Times.

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The ride hailing firm had for some years made use of Greyball that very effectively changes the app view for the specific riders.

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. He said the company is hereby "expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward".

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

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Uber's attempts in repairing the relations with the regulators come despite a series of missteps that have actually sparked the consumer backlash and also raised the investor concern. A former Uber employee last month published a blog post describing a workplace where sexual harassment was common and went unpunished. After the blog post had gone viral, Uber urged an internal investigation.

After that, Bloomberg had released a video that displayed Kalanick berating one of the Uber drivers who had gone and complained about the cuts to rates that was paid to drivers, which resulted in Kalanick seeking a public apology.

Sullivan notes that the technology to show a different version of the app to certain users is useful for a number of purposes ranging from the testing of new features by Uber employees to marketing promotions and fraud prevention. On 2 March, Uber announced that it would apply for a permit to test its self-driving cars in San Francisco.

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