Burning all sorts of bridges
Uber is not giving ride-sharing a good name. Though the term itself is synonymous with the alternative taxi-service, their recent legal troubles ensure that no one wants to be associated with the company.
A recent investigation by the Bureau of Transportation in Portland, OR, found that Uber used software to continue their services without an official permit. The software tool, Greyball, allowed Uber to block certain users and in turn, evade detection from city officials.
Using geolocation, user behavior and social media analysis along with Greyball, Uber was able to identify users who were suspected to be law enforcement officers and government officials. They blocked these users by sending them to a shadow app, which they created to prevent them from using their ride-sharing services.
Through the shadow app, users were unable to connect with a driver, and the rides they did see were out of the area.
The investigation in Portland found that 17 rider accounts were blocked, 12 of those belonging to government officials. Uber acknowledged their deception in March of this year and vowed to stop using Greyball. However, they did not follow through on their promise until April, after they were officially allowed to operate in the city.
For anyone following Uber’s recent scandals, this information is not surprising. The only shocking thing is realizing that Uber is still able to operate as a business without any major consequences. The list of accusations is overwhelming. In May, the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation against Uber over their use of Greyball.
Investigations are also pending in California.
Uber has also been accused of using other shady software to track users. Hell was used to track the availability and location of Lyft drivers to gain the upper hand in the ridesharing competition. Uber also used Hell to track their employees who also worked for Lyft. Currently, the FBI is investigating Hell. Some reports even speculate that the Uber app tracked iPhone users, even after it was deleted.
The question remains
With the company riddled with scandals, it is unfathomable to view them as a legitimate business. Luckily, there are other options out there with more ethical business practices.