Uber to stop using ‘Greyball’ to block US government officials

Uber’s program, which is sometimes referred to as “Greyball,” blocks users who the company believes are in violation of its terms of service agreement


Uber has said the system is used for a variety of purposes, including protecting drivers from violence. Photo: Reuters
Uber has said the system is used for a variety of purposes, including protecting drivers from violence. Photo: Reuters

San Francisco: Uber Technologies Inc. will end the practice of showing fake versions of its app to government officials suspected of conducting sting operations on drivers.

The program, which is sometimes referred to as “Greyball,” blocks users who the company believes are in violation of its terms of service agreement. In the past, that has included government officials and enforcement authorities in cities who request rides with the intent of ticketing drivers or impounding cars in areas where Uber may not be authorized to operate. The system would cancel rides or display cars that weren’t actually nearby.

Uber is investigating the Greyball program, according to a statement by Joe Sullivan, the company’s chief security officer. Uber has said the system is used for a variety of purposes, including protecting drivers from violence.

“We are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward,” Sullivan wrote in the statement. “Given the way our systems are configured, it will take some time to ensure this prohibition is fully enforced.” Bloomberg

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