Uber built secret program to evade law enforcement

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It was developed as the "unexpected visitor protocol" after a police raid in Brussels seized the company's financial, payments and worker documents.

The team in charge of the system were able to remotely lock computer systems, including smartphones, shut down devices, and change passwords.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that Uber used the tool, known as Ripley, from spring 2015 until late 2016 in several cities.

Per Bloomberg, once instance occurred in Montreal in May 2015 where around 10 investigators from the provincial tax authority raided Uber's office with a warrant to search for evidence pertaining to an alleged tax violation against the company. Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly opened a criminal probe into the taxi-service company over its "Hell" program, which was used to track drivers attached to its rival, Lyft, from 2014 to 2016. When the officials arrived at the office in Montreal, the headquarters in San Francisco logged everyone off their computers.

If you thought that Ripley was the only trick Uber had up its sleeve, wait till you hear about their other program called Greyball.

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Uber said in a statement: "Like every company with offices around the world, we have security procedures in place to protect corporate and customer data". According to Uber the software is necessary to protect company data, along with the privacy of passengers, drivers and Uber employees.

We understand why Uber has to be extra careful with their data, considering that they access to the private data of millions of people across the world. Employees aware of its existence eventually took to calling it Ripley, after Sigourney Weaver's flamethrower-wielding hero in the Alien movies.

'When it comes to government investigations, it's our policy to cooperate with all valid searches and requests for data. Last March, the New York Times revealed the company used secretive software called Greyball in some cities where Uber wasn't yet allowed to operate. And it is true that law enforcement doesn't necessarily have a right to every piece of company data simply because a warrant of some sort exists.

The Justice Department also is investigating whether Uber illegally used software to track drivers of its rival Lyft. Uber is no stranger to such techniques, and have been found to remotely shutdown computers to thwart police raids.

Uber has drawn scrutiny in the past for designing software to evade authorities.

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