Uber will stop using “Greyball” software to thwart regulators in cities where it may be operating without permission, the company said Wednesday, adding that “it will take some time to ensure this prohibition is fully enforced.”
The ride-hailing company’s use of the technology to identify and block local officials from locating Uber cars was revealed in a New York Times report last week. The company has a checkered past with local regulators, often expanding into markets against the strong opposition of city officials and taxicab commissions.
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. It is also used for promotions, fraud prevention and the testing of new features, Sullivan said.
“We have started a review of the different ways this technology has been used to date. In addition, we are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward,” he added. “Given the way our systems are configured, it will take some time to ensure this prohibition is fully enforced.”
The news of Uber’s Greyball software added to a streak of bad news for the company. Since the start of the year, Uber has been the subject of rider boycotts and sexual harassment allegations, and its chief executive, Travis Kalanick, asked for “leadership help” after being criticized for arguing with one of the company’s drivers.
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