FBI probing Uber over use of 'Hell' spyware to track rival biz Lyft

Beleaguered company says it's 'cooperating' with investigation

By Andrew Silver

Posted in Policy, 8th September 2017 16:05 GMT

The FBI is investigating allegations that Uber used its "Hell" program to track drivers from rival firm Lyft.

The Wall Street Journal reports that one part of the investigation, led by the FBI's New York Office and Manhattan US Attorney's office, is into whether "Hell" counted as unauthorised computer access.

An Uber spokeswoman told The Register: "We're cooperating and it's worth noting that the program is no longer operational, and that a related lawsuit was dismissed just last week."

She declined to comment further.

Uber has faced myriad legal challenges of late, including a lawsuit from Alphabet. And last month it agreed to twenty years of audits into its privacy practices.

The WSJ reports that there are other ongoing federal investigations, including one into its "Greyball" software that allowed Uber drivers to avoid police or regulators. The report states that public officials in Portland, Oregon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Austin, Texas have been subpoenaed for the investigation, led by the US attorney's office in the Northern District of California and involving FBI agents.

The US Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York declined to comment. A spokesperson for the FBI's Philadelphia office told us: "Per Department of Justice policy, the FBI does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation." Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the city of Austin, Texas told The Register: "No one has been contacted by the FBI or any other agency about this and as of now we have not received any subpoenas or requests." ®

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