Published: Mon, January 15, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Uber Used Another Secret Software Program to Evade Police

Uber Used Another Secret Software Program to Evade Police

As described by Bloomberg, around 10 investigators from the provincial tax authority stormed Uber's office with a warrant to search for evidence pertaining to an alleged tax violation. This lead to the investigators leaving empty handed. It was developed as the "unexpected visitor protocol" after a police raid in Brussels seized the company's financial, payments and worker documents.

Ripley: This allowed the Uber HQ team to remotely change passwords and otherwise lock up data on company-owned smartphones, laptops, and desktops as well as shut down the devices'.

Sigourney Weaver as Warrant Officer Ripley in the hit film Alien 3- the inspiration for Uber's latest software tool
Sigourney Weaver as Warrant Officer Ripley in the hit film Alien 3- the inspiration for Uber's latest software tool

Ride-sharing company Uber has been accused of using a computer system to intentionally dodge criminal investigations in foreign countries, according to Bloomberg.

Should law enforcement show up to raid any of its offices overseas, managers had been instructed to page a number to warn staff at Uber's San Francisco headquarters, according to a report Thursday by Bloomberg News. The tool was named in honor of Sigourney Weaver's character in the "Alien" movies.

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Uber has been using a secret tool known as "Ripley" to hide incriminating data from police, according to a report from Bloomberg. 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. In the second film, Aliens, after the titular creatures defeat a squad of ground troops, Ripley suggests the heroes "nuke the entire site from orbit". The company now uses a tool called ULocker that can remotely lock and encrypt devices.

"Like every company with offices around the world, we have security procedures in place to protect corporate and customer data", Uber said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg. The company also said its policy is to cooperate with all valid searches and requests for data.

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After the Montreal raid, a judge in the subsequent tax lawsuit wrote that Uber's actions showed "all the characteristics of an attempt to obstruct justice" and that the company was trying to hide "evidence of its illegal activities". Uber is no stranger to such techniques, and have been found to remotely shutdown computers to thwart police raids.

Less than a week after Greyball was exposed, Uber said it stopped using the software.

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Separately, Uber is under investigation for its "greyball" software, which was reportedly used to thwart government regulators.

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