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Published: Fri, April 14, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Uber used secret program to track Lyft drivers

Uber used secret program to track Lyft drivers

According to an unnamed person who was involved in the programme and another who was briefed about it, Uber used Hell to monitor the driving habits of Lyft drivers, especially those who worked for both Lyft and Uber, The Information reports. The program, known internally as "Hell" and shut down at the beginning of 2016, tracked drivers working for rival app Lyft, allowing Uber to figure out which drivers were working for both apps. Drivers on Lyft are also assigned a persistent ID number, allowing Uber to track when and where the most active drivers were. "Hell" was a sibling program of "God View" or "Heaven", which Uber uses in-house to track its own drivers, passengers and celebrities, as previous reports have shown. The positioning of these fake drivers around the city gave Uber a grid view of Lyft drivers. This knowledge could be incredibly valuable to Uber, giving the ride-sharing company insight into locations where Lyft is strongest or where Lyft could have potential blind spots.

Such software could have given Uber a competitive advantage over its main rival, but could also put the company in legal trouble. Lyft said in a statement to the publication that "if true, the allegations are very concerning".

Uber has not returned a request for comment. The company's general managers, the people in charge of particular regions or cities, were not privy to the program, according to the report.

If proven, the use of this program could open Uber up to prosecution, including claims of unfair business practices, misappropriation of trade secrets, computer fraud, and breach of contract, since Lyft's terms of service prohibit impersonation. But Lyft isn't backing down and may have the opportunity to gain some ground in light of Uber's recent controversies.

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