Uber allegedly used secret program to spy on Grab
A secret Uber program supposedly spied on Southeast Asian rival Grab and stole data on its drivers, according to a Bloomberg report.
Called Surfcam, the program developed by an Uber staff out of its Sydney office scraped data published by competitors to figure out how many drivers were on their systems in real-time and where they were, the report said quoting anonymous sources. It started in 2015 while Travis Kalanick was CEO.
The tool, which was said to have been mainly used on Grab, raised concerns with a member of Uber’s legal team “who questioned whether it could be legally operated in Singapore because it may run afoul of Grab’s terms of service or the country’s strict computer-crime laws,” the report added.
It’s one of the invasive and possible illicit schemes that US authorities are looking into as they launched “at least five criminal probes” against the embattled ride-hailing company.
A string of spy projects
This was not the first time that Uber is said to have used software to undermine its competitors.
Last month, the FBI was said to have begun investigating the company for using a program internally dubbed Hell to track drivers working for US rival Lyft.
The spy project – no longer in operation – determined which drivers were working double shifts for both companies and collected price information on Lyft.
In other cases, Uber’s widely reported Greyball program for identifying and sidestepping regulators who sought to catch it in markets where it was banned is still under review by the US Justice Department, while the company had settled with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy concerns with a tool for accessing sensitive rider information called God View.
We’ve reached out to Grab and Uber for comment.
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