Ride-share giant Uber has agreed to change how it uses Greyball technology after it was revealed it was being used to avoid authorities in countries where Uber is banned.
Since 2014 Uber has used Greyball, a computer program embedded within the app, to identify “undesirables” along a driver’s route and then create an alternative travel plan.
The technology was supposed to be used to keep drivers safe from customers with a violent history. But Uber has also been using Greyball to keep their service away from authorities whilst operating in locations where it’s banned.
Greyball was part of a broader program called VTOS. The aim to collect in-app data to identify and target certain individuals, like law enforcement officers. Uber's app would then show no cars were available or show a mock-up of the app with fake Uber cars.
So far the technology has been used to evade authorities in Australia, China, South Korea and Italy and in cities such as Paris, Boston and Las Vegas.
The use of Greyball technology was pre-approved by Uber’s legal team, but the company has come under public scrutiny after The New York Times wrote an article exposing the practice.
This week they released a statement saying they would be reviewing their policies regarding the use of Greyball technology.
"We have started a review of the different ways this technology has been used to date…in addition, we are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward,” said Uber’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan in a blog post.