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Report: FBI is Investigating Uber For Illegally Targeting Lyft
Federal law-enforcement officials in New York are investigating whether Uber used a software to illegally track drivers working for its rival Lyft, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The probe, which is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York and the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, is looking into a program – now defunct – that was referred to as “Hell,” according to the Journal. Uber has never discussed this program publicly, the Journal notes.
But people familiar with the matter said “Hell” worked like this: Uber created fake Lyft customer accounts, tricking Lyft’s system into believing prospective customers were seeking rides in various locations around a city. That allowed Uber to see which Lyft drivers were nearby and what prices they were offering for various routes, similar to how such information appears when an authentic Lyft app is opened on a user’s smartphone, these people said.
The program was also used to glean data on drivers who worked for both companies, and whom Uber could target with cash incentives to get them to leave Lyft, said these people, who added that the program was discontinued last year.
A source tells the Journal that one key to the probe will be whether “Hell” actually gave Uber unauthorized access to Lyft’s computers. Uber is currently the target of three federal investigations into its operations.
An Uber spokesman tells the Journal that the company is cooperating with authorities in the investigation of its “Hell” program.
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