Uber has been in the news for a while now for all the wrong reasons. Recently, two of its female engineers publicly stated that they were targeted at the workplace on the basis of sexism and experienced sexual assaults. Even after reporting the incidents to their managers, there was no concrete action. Such incidents have publicized the company negatively. The ride-hailing giant is once again in the limelight for its wrongdoings. The Uber secret program is to help the company avoid violating any of the legal service terms and conditions. The company has been using this program for years by now on a worldwide basis to deceive authorities. This program mainly works on the Greyball tool.
The program is to dodge authorities in markets where law enforcement resists certain actions of the company or had completely banned it. This news was first reported by the New York Times on Friday stating that the secret tool had the ability to systematically mislead enforcement criteria in areas where it tends to violate regulations. This has been a common practice before its discovery. Officials discovered this deception during a sting operation wherein they could see cars nearby on the app but never received a booking. This is the indirect manner in which Uber Inc. blocked its users without their knowledge.
How did the Uber secret program defraud enforcement officials
The Uber secret program Greyball collects geolocation data, social media accounts, credit card information, and other such data sources to identify customers who supposedly conduct sting operations. This method is prevalent in cities such as Paris, Las Vegas, and Boston and in countries like China, South Korea, and Australia. The use of this program began in 2014 and is still used mostly outside the country of the U.S. Greyball was a part of the VTOS program by Uber which stands for “violation of terms of service”. Four former and current Uber employees released documents about this secret program. They requested anonymity in the fear of facing retaliation from the company.
About the Uber secret program accusation, the company conveniently denies it in a statement. It says that it denies services only to those users who violate their terms of service. A spokesperson of the company also clarified that there is a difference between law enforcement and code enforcement. The company argues that it’s their right to block any user who might be a threat to the driver’s safety. But the secret program might be an intentional obstruction of law enforcement. On further research, officials discovered that Uber's legal team was aware of this secret program. Even though the company is refusing to accept the presence of such a program, leaked information confirms the accusation.