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The Feds are Looking Into Uber’s Tracking Software

Uber’s “Greyball” is the subject of a Department of Justice criminal investigation.

Uber in the EU

The Department of Justice is investigating ridesharing app Uber for using software known as “Greyball” to help its drivers evade transportation regulators who were trying to catch the company operating in areas where it was not approved.

Uber has acknowledged the software, known as “Greyball,” helped it identify and circumvent government officials who were trying to clamp down on Uber in areas where its service had not yet been approved, such as Portland, Oregon.

The company prohibited the use of Greyball for this purpose shortly after the New York Times revealed its existence in March, saying the program was created to check ride requests to prevent fraud and safeguard drivers. The Times report triggered a barrage of negative publicity for the company.

Uber claimed, in letters penned by its lawyers and sent to Portland authorities, that Greyball was used “exceedingly sparingly” in that city before service was approved in 2015.

The news of a criminal investigation, reported by Reuters, noted that a grand jury in Northern California is seeking “documents concerning how the software tool functioned and where it was deployed.”

Uber’s board of directors has retained Shearman & Sterling LLP to internally investigate exactly what happened.