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March 9, 2017

Uber Vows to Halt Use of Greyball Technology to Circumvent Local Regulators

Uber is ending the use of the technology some of its drivers have been using to thwart regulators.

Dubbed Greyball, the technology was used by the company to detect and evade local regulators scrutinizing the ride-sharing service.

The news comes after a New York Times report last Friday outed Uber’s use of the technology to thwart regulators and law enforcement hoping to catch the firm’s drivers operating in areas where the service has been restricted. The report, which cited four former and current Uber employees, indicated Greyball was being used in a number of U.S. cities as well as in other countries.

Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan, in a blog post late Wednesday, said it is “expressly prohibiting” the use of Greyball “to target action by local regulators going forward.”

“Given the way our systems are configured, it will take some time to ensure this prohibition is fully enforced,” Sullivan said. “We’ve had a number of organizations reach out for information and we will be working to respond to their inquiries once we have finished our review.”

The blog post subtly suggests that the drivers themselves were using the technology to thwart authorities rather than for its other intended purposes, which include the testing of new features by employees; marketing promotions; fraud prevention; to protect drivers from physical harm; and to deter riders using the app in violation of the company’s terms of service.

It seems unlikely, however, that Uber was unaware of its drivers using Greyball to avoid regulators.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.