Federal Bureau of Investigation launches probe into Uber's Hell program

Jon Howard
September 10, 2017

USA authorities are investigating Uber over allegations the company spied on its ride-sharing competitor Lyft, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Friday.

Furthermore, Uber was also able to learn whether a driver was working for both companies, and target these persons with incentives to drop Lyft.

The investigation is being led by the FBI's NY office and the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, the Journal said.

"We are cooperating with the investigation", an Uber spokesperson tells The Verge. Now, it looks like Uber is involved in yet another federal investigation. The ride-hailing company is already dealing with both its recovery from a high-profile sexual harassment probe and its ongoing legal battle with Waymo, and now it looks like Uber might also be in trouble with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 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.

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The FBI investigators will weigh whether the actions constitute unauthorized access.

This past April, a Lyft driver filed a lawsuit against Uber that in part cited the program, but it was dismissed. The company has been grappling with workplace culture issues, sexual harassment, and allegedly stealing Alphabet's (GOOG) trade secrets, among other challenges. It's a software that could help the company in evading law enforcement oversight. Now, the new CEO has another problem to deal with-an FBI investigation. Last week, the company said the Justice Department is also investigating Uber's worldwide business to see if the company violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

And last month, the company agreed to settle an investigation into privacy features. The software would allow Uber to better understand how to recruit and attract future drivers.

Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi isn't going to have much of a honeymoon. He hopes to resolve all troubles that the firm is facing so it'll be ready for a public offering in 2019.

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