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Published: Tue, September 12, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Feds probe Uber's tracking of Lyft drivers

Feds probe Uber's tracking of Lyft drivers

The FBI and the United States attorney's office in NY are reportedly looking into whether the ride-hailing company used the software to illegally thwart its competitor Lyft, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The investigation is looking into Uber's use of a special programme internally called "Hell, " people with knowledge of the proceedings, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorised to speak publicly, said, The New York Times reported. The company declined to offer any further comment. Apart from the FBI's New York City branch, the investigation is also being headed by the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office, latest reports indicate.

Using Uber internal records, they would determine if the driver drove for both companies, giving incentives to those that did drive for Uber as well so that they would primarily work for Uber and "thereby reducing the supply of Lyft drivers, which resulted in increased wait times for Lyft customers and diminished earnings for Lyft drivers". The software's existence was first reported in February, and now the FBI is investigating its use, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The lawsuit maintains that Uber then transplanted the property into its own fleet of self-driving vehicles - a charge that Uber has adamantly denied.

Their lawsuit claims this software violated the federal Wiretap Act but Uber claims the suit was dismissed.

The authorities will have to assess whether those actions constitute unauthorized access, or as Uber has put it, an instance of it accessing data already available to the public.

Uber confirmed that it was co-operating with the investigation but was unable...

The FBI is investigating Uber amid claims that the taxi-hailing company used software to interfere with a rival. Meanwhile, the foreign bribery case is being overseen in the Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. The slew of corporate governance and regulatory issues that the company had been involved in had eventually led to the ouster of Uber's co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick last June.

Under Kalanick, Uber also faced allegations of systemic mishandling of sexual harassment reports and a lawsuit from Google, which accused it of stealing self-driving auto technology.

Last month, the company also agreed to settle a Federal Communications Commission investigation into security and privacy failures by agreeing to 20 years of external audits.

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