Feds probe Uber's use of fake app to stymie city inspectors

When I asked via email how many users had ditched the app since then, a spokesman for the company declined to comment, but added (drawing verbatim from a March 21 press call), "We are in the fortunate position that the business remains healthy, allowing us the time to focus on all the changes that are necessary". In a statement, Uber's general manager for Oregon Bryce Bennett said the company has "fully cooperated" with Portland and provided relevant information to its investigation.

Portland City Council is trying to force Uber to turn over internal documents and software related to Greyball.

The Justice Department is probing allegations that Uber used phony software to thwart city efforts to make sure the ride-hailing company follows local regulations. According to Reuters' sources, the investigation has included grand jury subpoenas, but is otherwise in its early stages.

It has since stopped the use of the software for that goal, saying the program was created to check ride requests to prevent fraud and safeguard drivers Reuters reported on Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice has begun a criminal investigation into Uber's Greyball program, and that a Northern California grand jury had issued a subpoena to Uber concerning how the software tool functioned and where it was deployed. "The city of Portland was notified by the United States Attorney of the Northern District of California that Uber is the subject of a federal inquiry", the audit report stated. Per Reuters, VTOS "analyzed credit card, device identification, location data and other factors to predict whether a request for a ride was legitimate". Uber has admitted to using the tool in Portland in late 2014 but stopped using it once the Northwestern city legalised ride-hailing services.

The Justice Department probe apparently isn't limited to Portland.

"This program denies ride requests to fraudulent 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 said.

  • Zachary Reyes