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Uber In Trouble Again: FBI Investigating 'Hell' Software That Was Used To Spy On Lyft Drivers

9 September 2017, 8:22 am EDT By Aaron Mamiit Tech Times
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The FBI has launched an investigation into whether the Hell program of Uber, which it used to spy on Lyft drivers, illegally interfered with its rival's business. New Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has rough times ahead.  ( Uber | Twitter )

Uber is back in the headlines with another problem, as the FBI has launched an investigation into the software that the ride-hailing service used to spy on the drivers of its rival, Lyft.

The so-called Hell program is just one of the many issues that are on the plate for new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who has been on the post for just two weeks.

FBI Investigates Uber's Hell Program

The FBI is probing to see whether Uber's usage of the Hell program illegally interfered with its competitors, according to sources familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The investigation, which is helmed by the New York office of the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office of Manhattan, will look to see if the Hell software constituted unauthorized access of computers.

The Uber Hell program was first brought to light in April, when a former Lyft driver filed a class-action lawsuit against Uber for allegedly spying on its rival's drivers through the software. The Hell software, which was said to have been used from 2014 to 2016, tracked how many Lyft drivers were available, where they were located, and which Uber drivers were also driving for Lyft.

Reports also claimed that Uber created fake Lyft accounts and used them to collect driver data. For drivers that were discovered to also be working for its rival, Uber tried to give them various bonuses to push them to stop driving for Lyft.

Presumably, Uber used all these information and tactics to be able to undercut the operations of Lyft with lower prices to poach Lyft riders. The class action lawsuit against Uber over the Hell program was dismissed last week, but an amended complaint will be filed later this month.

Rough Times Ahead For Khosrowshahi

A spokesman for Uber confirmed that the company is fully cooperating with the FBI for the investigation, but the aftermath of the Hell software is just one of the many problems that they will have to deal with.

Another controversial software used by Uber is named the Greyball tool, and its purpose was to deceive regulators in markets where the ride-hailing service is banned. The tool utilized data to identify local officials and showed them a different version of the Uber app with either no rides available or with fake rides.

Khosrowshahi inherits the issues caused by these controversial software from former CEO Travis Kalanick, among the company's many other problems. Perhaps as a sign that there are rough times ahead for the new Uber CEO, the company picked up another issue upon his appointment, with the U.S. Department of Justice looking into alleged Uber bribery practices to sway foreign officials.

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