The United States Department of Justice has launched an investigation into Uber over the software they used to evade regulatory officials. Uber did confirm they used such software, codenamed “Greyball.” That software helped their drivers evade authorities who were attempting to crack down on Uber in unapproved locations. Uber discontinued the use of Greyball soon after the New York Times broke the story of the software’s existence. Uber maintains that Greyball was primarily used to check ride requests and safeguard their drivers from potentially bad riders.
An Uber spokesman and the Justice Department declined to comment. Uber lawyers said in letters to Portland authorities, which Portland made public in a report last week, that the Greyball technology was used ”exceedingly sparingly” in that city before the service was approved there in 2015. The nature of any potential federal criminal violation and the likelihood of anyone being charged is unclear. The investigation is still in its early stages, the sources said. Bloomberg news service reported the existence of a federal probe last week but did not identify it as criminal.
Uber is already facing many problems surrounding its business and it seems their legal problems just keep piling up. This move by the United States Department of Justice could serve to further hurt the company’s image and ability to do business. The company hasn’t exactly done everything on the up and up though, so you can’t feel too badly for them. That old saying, “you reap what you sow” comes to mind here. Hopefully the company can clean up the mess they’ve gotten themselves into and continue on with business as usual. It will probably take a lot of effort though, and a significant amount of lawyers and cash.