Uber used secret tool to thwart law enforcement in foreign countries

Andrew Cummings
January 12, 2018

According to the latest report from Bloomberg, Uber used a second secret program it used to protect itself from government raids and investigations.

By enacting the program, employees were able to lock data on Uber's devices, change passwords, or shut down company-owned computers and phones entirely, shielding data from authorities, even when those authorities had warrants for information in Uber's system.

Uber has been using a secret tool known as "Ripley" to hide incriminating data from police, according to a report from Bloomberg.

In May 2015, ten investigators for the Quebec tax authority burst into Uber's office in Montreal, believing that Uber had violated tax laws and arrived with a warrant to collect evidence.

'Managers on-site knew what to do, say people with knowledge of the event.' Bloomberg says. When the call came in, staffers quickly remotely logged off every computer in the Montreal office, making it practically impossible for the authorities to retrieve the company records they'd obtained a warrant to collect.

SAN FRANCISCO - Uber confirmed Thursday that it once used technology to shield data from law enforcement during unexpected raids of its offices outside the US, another example of the company using questionable tactics in its pursuit of market share.

Uber said in a statement that, like all companies, it has various security procedures in place to protect its data.

'When it comes to government investigations, it's our policy to cooperate with all valid searches and requests for data.

A report by Bloomberg today claimed the dial-a-ride broker built a tool called Ripley to remotely lock and remove potentially incriminating data from machines in branch offices that were being raided by cops. In that case, the use of a program like Ripley is justified. Later versions of the program reportedly allowed Uber to pick and choose what information law enforcement could access.

Late past year, news broke that Uber is officially under federal investigation for a program it called Greyball. The company then served up a fake version of the app, populated with ghost cars, to evade capture.

Ensign said security tools such as ULocker is similar to those used by other companies and gives Uber a way to block access to data when an employee loses a device.

At the time, Uber had just started its ride-hailing service in Portland without seeking permission from the city, which later declared the service illegal.

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