Uber being investigated for spying on Lyft drivers in the US: Report

Croak

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Uber’s tryst with the courts is far from over. Though founder Travis Kalanick has successfully sent Benchmark’s lawsuit against him to arbitration, the cab-hailing company has now been accused by US federal authorities of using a spyware program designed to undermine competition. According to Bloomberg, a Uber program code-named “Hell” allowed it to spy on drivers from Lyft – its primary competitor in the US – between 2014 and 2016.

The program was said to have identified drivers who worked for both Uber and Lyft – a similar arrangement works in India with drivers servicing both Uber and Ola – and targeted them with cash incentives such that they would shift their loyalties to Uber. The event came to notice in April when Lyft drivers in San Francisco filed a class-action lawsuit against Uber. A spokesperson reportedly clarified that the ‘Hell’ program was no longer being used, and that the $69 billion Uber was cooperating with the investigating authorities.  US court grants arbitration order in Uber-Benchmark battle: Report

Incidentally, the executive tasked with overseeing legalities and compliance matters at Uber resigned last week, possibly in the wake of the Lyft lawsuit. Uber is now looking for his replacement who would report directly to newly appointed CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The new chief has other legal issues to handle as well. Uber is being investigated for another program called ‘Greyball’ that was allegedly used to deceive regulators about its operations, and also to bribe foreign officials. Uber has way too many chinks in the armor when it comes to corporate governance.  Uber Mishaps: From data breach to CEO Travis Kalanick’s leave of absence, here’s everything that went wrong

In the US cab-hailing market, Lyft and Uber are fierce competitors. Lyft was the biggest gainer when the #DeleteUber movement swept the the country earlier this year, following allegations of sexism and workplace harassment at the Travis Kalanick-owned firm, which eventually led to his ouster in June. Meanwhile, Japan’s SoftBank has gone on record to say that it wants to enter the US market through investments in either Uber or Lyft. The latter’s exponential growth this year, in which it has expanded to 131 cities servicing more than 40 million people, has evidently made Uber wary. However, nothing justifies its unlawful actions.

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