Is Uber’s Greyball a VTOS (Violation of Terms Of Service) or Deception?

08 March 2017 Internet, IT & e-Discovery Blog Blog
Authors: Peter Vogel

The New York Times reported that Uber’s Greyball “uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials who were trying to clamp down on the ride-hailing service.”  The March 3, 2017 article entitled “How Uber Deceives the Authorities Worldwide” said that Uber used Greyball:

…to evade the authorities in cities like Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China and South Korea.

The program, including Greyball, began as early as 2014 and remains in use, predominantly outside the United States. Greyball was approved by Uber’s legal team.

Greyball and the VTOS program were described to The New York Times by four current and former Uber employees, who also provided documents. The four spoke on the condition of anonymity because the tools and their use are confidential and because of fear of retaliation by Uber.

Uber responded to these allegations:

This program denies ride requests to users who are violating our terms of service — whether that’s people aiming to physically harm drivers, competitors looking to disrupt our operations, or opponents who collude with officials on secret ‘stings’ meant to entrap drivers.

It will be interesting to follow what happens next with these allegations.

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