'Greyballed': Uber Software Identifies and Avoids Police
Uber reportedly has a secret tool that identifies and evades law enforcement, in order to operate in cities that have imposed strict rules or even banned the taxi alternative.
The tool, called Greyball, uses data collected by the Uber app to identify and deceive authorities, as first reported by the New York Times.
Uber used these methods to operate in American cities like Boston, Las Vegas, Portland, and even Paris, France, without the authorities or city officials finding out. When an officer tried to request an Uber, the app would display “ghost” cars, which would never pick them up. In some cases, authorities will not see any cars on the app at all, the report said.
In 2014, the ride-hailing service began operating in Portland without the city's permission, violating the city’s Private For-Hire Transportation Regulations and Administrative Rules, according to the newspaper.
Erich England, a code enforcement inspector in Portland, Oregon, posed as a customer, trying to catch a ride in order to build a case against the company. England and city officials recorded themselves requesting multiple rides through the app, each of which was quickly canceled.