In the face of mounting pressure from local police and other regulators, Uber has prohibited the use of “Greyball” technology to evade authorities in cities where the ride-share service is under investigation or has been banned.
Greyball is a software tool that allows Uber to identify certain riders and to offer them a substitute screen rather than the default city view.The company says it has used the application to block riders who have violated Uber’s terms of service, prevent fraud, guard against physical harm to drivers, run trial marketing promotions, and allow employees to test new features.
The company confesses that it has also used the technology to block authorities from access to Uber in cities where the service is not allowed.
Uber is reviewing its use of Greyball software and is “expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward,” wrote chief security officer Joe Sullivan Wednesday in an Uber blog post.
Greyball’s existence was only speculative until last week when the company confirmed its existence.The software had been used to identify and block officials who intended to give Uber drivers citations or to apprehend them in communities where Uber is being opposed.The software’s existence and regulation-evading use was disclosed in a New York Times investigative report last week.