Uber, one of the most popular taxi-hailing services has been facing criticism ever since its launch. The year 2017, in particular, has not been kind to Uber so far. The taxi service company has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Uber has been accused of disrupting the rules and regulations of several states within the US and outside the country. The company which was started in 2009 gained popularity and became the highly valued private company appraised at $70 billion. The company has faced several controversies.
The newest controversy surrounding Uber is its program called as Greyball. This program was designed with the sole aim of preventing authorities and officials from hailing rides in various cities that are not friendly with Uber’s operations. Even though Uber is highly sought after, the company faces problems in various cities regarding the regulations. In controversial cities, Uber uses the Greyball program to dodge the security officials who may have a problem with Uber.
Mitch Kapor, one of the early backers of Uber has published an open letter along with his wife criticizing Uber’s destructive work practices. The company was accused of following aggressive business practices without any regard for the business rules and regulations.
Uber suffered from the wrath of people boycotting the service when it seemingly tried to profit from taxi strike in the New York city after Trump issued immigration order banning people from certain countries. Following the massive bad publicity, the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick resigned from the advising council of the President. Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber for stealing its self-driving car technology. Uber was also bashed for blatant sexism.
Recently, a video surfaced showing Kalanick hurling abuses towards his Uber taxi driver. This came out at a time when Uber claimed that it has a strong support system for its drivers. Following the media attention towards the video, the CEO promptly apologize for his behavior.
Greyball emerges to be the biggest scandal concerning Uber because it prevented regulating authorities from hailing a cab service by tracking their details in various ways. The credit cards, user behavior, and even social media profiles were monitored to determine whether the new customer is an official related to the police credit bureaus. In order to thwart these officials, Uber uses a fake app with ghost cars making the officials believe that no car is available for their ride.
Following the exposure of Greyball, Joe Sullivan, the Chief Security Officer of Uber has announced that Greyball won’t be used anymore. He said that use of Greyball is strictly prohibited and it will take some time for their system to reflect the recent update. However, this means that Greyball was in use for a long time and Uber can exclude any people they want based on their own privileges. Many people question whether it is ethical or illegal and experts agree that it is a grey area. The companies require technology to provide best services for its customers and there are no regulations to prevent these companies from using the same technology against the public service.