FBI Looks Into Uber Tracking Their Competitors
Is Uber Being Naughty Again?
Not long after Uber got themselves out of a tricky situation involving their bad practices, they’re back under fire again, this time from the FBI. According to new sources, the FBI are currently working on a case that would suggest they are looking into Uber tracking their competitors.
Recently, Apple found Uber to be tracking their users for five minutes after their trip had ended. Uber said they used this information to ensure the safety of their customers, but Apple made it clear that this practice, tracking users in this fashion, was against Apple’s app store terms of service agreement.
After the issue escalated a little, with Uber trying to hide their practices from Apple, Tim Cook stepped up to order Uber to remove the ‘feature’ from their app. Otherwise, the app would be removed immediately. Since then, Uber has taken the steps to remove this feature from their application.
Unfortunately, Uber still isn’t out of the negative spotlight. The FBI is leading an investigation into a claim that Uberis using tracking software to track drivers that use the Lyft app, which is Uber’s biggest competitor.
The software used has been nicknamed “Hell.” The software can track the drivers using the Lyft app to make income. It can do this by creating fake passenger accounts to scour the Lyft databases to see how much Lyft drivers are charging in comparison to Uber’s prices.
Technically, this type of competitor tracking isn’t necessarily against the law. With Uber tracking their competitors with this method, it may be against Lyft’s terms of service, but it may not be strictly illegal.
Given Uber’s track record, it may come as no surprise that the story doesn’t end there. The same software could also check the identity of the drivers it grabbed data on and would then compare it to Uber’s own database of drivers. If the driver were to be using both Lyft and Uber, it may have been possible that Uber was then using tactics to encourage these drivers to use Uber instead.
Fortunately, the Hell software doesn’t seem to run any other tracking techniques on Lyft drivers. More malicious attempts to track drivers, such as SMS tracking or email messaging isn’t being carried out.
Even with this in mind, Uber could potentially be under no threat from the FBI, so long as they haven’t maliciously breached Lyft’s servers or a computer operating within Lyft. If Uber has managed to run their software externally without using any hacks to infiltrate Lyft’s infrastructure in any way, Uber may be fine to continue their business. (Although it’s likely Lyft will try to fight against it now that the news is out.)
If Uber was to be found to have used an inside source or a malicious third party to illegally access Lyft’s servers without Lyft’s permission, Uber could be in big trouble.
Uber has proven to be a very useful service for the entire world, but their business practices have been and still continue to be extremely unethical. With friendlier, more trustworthy services such as Lyft now gaining traction, it’d be very surprising if Uber didn’t lose their top spot over their competitors if they don’t adjust their shady business strategies quickly.
With Uber tracking their competitors, their users, and even Apple engineers and state officials in countries where Uber has been banned, it’s no surprise that they’ve been under fire for the majority of 2017.