Johana Bhuiyan, Recode:
Greyball, first exposed by The New York Times, allows the company to create phantom rides for specific users as a way to both track and evade law enforcement.
The company reportedly used the tool to avoid local regulators in markets such as Boston, Las Vegas and Paris, where Uber could not yet legally operate.
But the company says it will continue to use the technology behind Greyball for other purposes such as testing new features. It will stop using it to circumvent government workers trying to catch Uber drivers.
A charitable reading of the Greyball affair is that Uber was concerned about drivers getting busted in cities where the company wasn’t licensed. Instead of the drivers taking heat from local law enforcement, Uber could make use of Greyball to avoid the police. But that’s clearly the wrong process to get approval for ride sharing companies to operate in cities where it isn’t yet allowed. It isn’t an act of protest by Uber; it’s callous disregard for regulations that make it slightly less convenient for them to expand their operations.