Uber faces criminal probe over controversial 'Greyball' software

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States have also investigated Uber's use of Greyball technology. Portland officials recently revealed that they're considering subpoenaing Uber over the matter themselves, but it seems that another authority already did so. That, I think, is the fascinating question. However Uber's lawyers stated in the letter to Portland authorities that Greyball was used "exceedingly sparingly" in the city before it was approved in 2015, notes Reuters.

Uber's history is catching up with it, and the streak of bad press isn't ending with its internal investigation into allegations of sexism or an ongoing lawsuit that threatens to stall its development of driverless cars.

Troubled ride-hailing startup Uber has another big headache to deal with: a federal probe reported to be criminal in nature.

Reuters' sources tell it that a grand jury in California has issued subpoenas to Uber seeking documents relating to where Greyball was deployed and how it works - indicating that there is indeed an investigation open into whether Uber may have committed a crime.

Soon after the use of the so-called "greyballing" technology in many countries was reported by the New York Times in early March, Uber said it would prohibit the use of the technology to target action by local regulators. Uber has since banned the use of the software, although it has stated its goal was to prevent fraud and safeguard employees, rather than evade regulators.

The US Department of Justice inquiry is said to centre on Uber's so called Greyball app.

An embarassing video of CEO Travis Kalanick that showed him berating an Uber driver prompted the executive to admit he needs "leadership help".

The system might have gone farther than suggested by Uber's terms of service for app users.

The tool was said to be widely used in areas where Uber services were restricted, banned or not yet approved, including Portland, Oregon, Philadelphia, Boston, and Las Vegas, as well as France, Australia, China, South Korea and Italy.

To avoid these undercover fares, the tool will collect their in-app data - such as credit card numbers, social media profiles and other personal details - and send them an alert saying a non-existent driver is on the way, or in some cases, that there are no cars available.

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