Uber also sometimes called drivers to end rides prematurely if they'd picked up someone on the Greyball list accidentally, per the Times. The upstart told the Times that Greyball simply stamps out abusers of its platform, rival app makers, risky passengers, and, er, law enforcement: "This program denies ride requests to users who are violating our terms of service - whether that's people aiming to physically harm drivers, competitors looking to disrupt our operations, or opponents who collude with officials on secret "stings" meant to entrap drivers".
Uber's bad year got worse this afternoon, when The New York Times reported that the company went to extraordinary lengths to circumvent investigations into its ride-hailing service.
The software, called Greyball, was developed to help protect the company from "violations of terms of service". The tool has been used in cities, countries, and regions where local rules blocked or impeded Uber's service, including Portland, Boston, Las Vegas, Paris, Australia, South Korea, China, and Italy.
Rival company Alphabet has also accused Uber of stealing designs for technology for self-driving cars - a claim Uber has denied.
Ubers internal system, Greyball, used data from the Uber app to monitor activity by its users. Uber identified the officials through personal information such as credit cards and social media accounts, as well as their geographic location, such as near a municipal building, according to the report.
Jeanie Buss Files Restraining Order Against Brothers In Newest Laker Drama
According to her, Jim and Johnny's lawyer, Robert Sacks, claims the brothers never tried to overthrow their sister at all. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, the brothers felt they had the votes to elect new directors from the team.
"Uber clearly lost its moral compass if it ever had one", entrepreneur and journalist John Battelle said in a Twitter post referring to the Greyball news.
Cambridge Police conducted sting operations aimed at pulling over Uber drivers in 2012, before then-Governor Deval Patrick took action to clarify the company's ability to operate legally.
The program recalls issues raised around Uber in the past, including statements made by SVP of Business Emil Michael at a dinner in 2014, which Uber CEO Travis Kalanick later apologized for, saying that Michael's suggestion Uber could essentially do opposition research on journalists were "terrible and do not represent the company".
Uber is no stranger to conflict with regulators and local authorities. In reality, requests for rides would be assigned to these non-existent vehicles that would never show up, or if a real driver was selected, the driver would be told the ride was canceled due to the user breaking the app's terms and conditions.