In a hot, wet kiss-off to an already terrible, horrible, no good, very bad couple months -- and a week where Uber's CEO cursed out and had to apologize to one of his drivers -- Uber got in trouble again. The latest news report from the New York Times states that the company's used its technology to deceive law enforcement agencies around the world for years, apparently.
It works like this: While places like New York, DC, or San Francisco may now be Uber hotspots, not every market loves the ride-hailing service. Some of them -- such as Paris, Boston, Las Vegas, and cities in Australia, China, South Korea, and Italy -- aren't keen on Uber taking a slice out of their taxi cab industries. Some of those markets cracked down on or even totally banned the app. One tactic authorities might deploy: posing as riders as part of sting operations to catch Uber in the wild and ticket its drivers.
Enter Greyball, an Uber program that's been nested under its broader "violation of terms of service" (VTOS) program since at least 2014. Greyball helped Uber identify undercover officers posing as riders in places like Portland -- where the Times reports Uber drivers were operating without the city's permission, prompting a crackdown. When Erich England, a code enforcement officer, attempted to use the app to hail a car, this happened, per the Times (our emphasis added):