A new report says Uber used a secret programme dubbed “Hell’ to track Lyft drivers to see if they were driving for both ride-hailing services and otherwise stifle competition. It’s the latest in a series of troubles for Uber, which is also dealing with executive departures and accusations of sexism and sexual harassment.
Only a small group of Uber employees, including CEO Travis Kalanick, knew about the programme, according to a story in The Information (subscription required), which was based on an anonymous source who was not authorised to speak publicly.The programme was discontinued in early 2016, according to the report.
A representative for Uber did not respond to messages for comment Thursday. Lyft said in a statement to the publication that “if true, the allegations are very concerning.”
Last month, another report surfaced about a different secret tracking weapon with a sinister-sounding name. “Greyball,” as it was called, identified regulators who were posing as riders while trying to collect evidence that Uber’s service was breaking local laws governing taxis. The service allowed Uber to thwart those efforts by canceling investigators’ ride requests.
Uber acknowledged that it used Greyball, and after the New York Times report came out the company said it would shut down the system. The Greyball tool collects data from the app to avoid officials who were “trying to clamp down on the ride-hailing service,” notes the report. The tool was used in cities like Boston, Paris, Las Vegas, and even in Australia, China and South Korea, and predominantly in markets outside of the United States.