Uber seems to be getting into more trouble with alarming frequency these days, as another revelation about ethically questionable business practices by the company has been made public.
According to the Information, Uber has been secretly tracking Lyft drivers using an internal software program dubbed ‘Hell’.
The program not only lets Uber see how many Lyft drivers were available for rides and what their prices were but also figure out which ones were double-dipping by driving for Uber, too.
This meant Uber had data that made it easier to offer those drivers incentives to switch over to Uber exclusively.
The software was called Hell in reference to “God View,” its other tool for tracking the location of customers.
The report is yet another stain on Uber’s reputation, which has already been on a nose dive due to many indictments of sexual harassment and discrimination, an on-going court battle with Alphabet owned Waymo and the founder and CEO Travis Kalanick’s less than mature behavior in recent times.
According to Information, only a few people at Uber knew about Hell, including Kalanick, several other executives and data scientists.
Hell originated after Uber created fake rider accounts on Lyft and used software to trick Lyft’s system into thinking those riders were in certain locations. This allowed Uber to see the eight closest available Lyft drivers to each fake rider.
This allowed Uber to see the eight closest available Lyft drivers to each fake rider.
Then Uber executives realized that Lyft had assigned a numerical user ID to each of its drivers.
This bonanza allowed them to start long-term tracking of Lyft drivers and deduce who also drove for Uber. Once Uber knew when and where they tended to log onto Lyft, the company was able to offer drivers incentives–including financial bonuses–created to convince them to use only Uber.
This development may drag Uber into another legal battle as a potential infringement of civil legal claims is directly related to the use of the program, the Information reports.
These include breach of contract, unfair business practices, stealing trade secrets and violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. A Uber spokesman told The Information that the company won’t publicly discuss its internal processes, while Lyft said “We are in a competitive industry. However, if true, these allegations are very concerning.”