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Uber Gets Sued Over Alleged 'Hell' Program To Track Lyft Drivers (techcrunch.com) 37

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Uber has another lawsuit on its hands. This time, it's about Uber's alleged use of a program called "Hell." The plaintiff, Michael Gonzales, drove for Lyft during the time Uber allegedly used the software. He's seeking $5 million in a class action lawsuit. As the story goes, Uber allegedly tracked Lyft drivers using a secret software program internally referred to as "Hell." It allegedly let Uber see how many Lyft drivers were available to give rides, and what their prices were. Hell could allegedly also determine if people were driving for both Uber and Lyft. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges Uber broadly invaded the privacy of the Lyft drivers, specifically violated the California Invasion of Privacy Act and Federal Wiretap Act and engaged in unfair competition. Uber has not confirmed nor outright denied the claims.
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Uber Gets Sued Over Alleged 'Hell' Program To Track Lyft Drivers

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  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday April 24, 2017 @09:21PM (#54295675)

    While older economic branches usually have found a modus to do without this (as it ultimately harms everybody), these "young savages" do not know what it means to be civilized and will apparently do anything for a short-term gain.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      The War Industrial Complex, seriously, you saying that git at UBER is worse than them. How about the pharmaceutical corporations, another that will freely kill for profits. How about the major financial corporations bankrupting everything they can touch, even crippling countries economically on purpose. How about all of the above except UBER happy to corrupt democracy at it's core to feed their insatiable greed and egos (we are talking some seriously sick fuckers).The digital psychopaths in suit are nothing

      • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2017 @01:34AM (#54296379)

        You miss the point. Sure all those you are quoting will gladly spy on, maim and kill others, but they will not touch each other. While these actors are pretty bad, it would be far worse if they were at war with each other.

      • by Maritz ( 1829006 )

        How about the pharmaceutical corporations, another that will freely kill for profits.

        Thanks for the red flag. You pretty much are guaranteed to be a crank saying this.

      • The War Industrial Complex, seriously, you saying that git at UBER is worse than them.

        It isn't, apparently; the merger of parts of Boeing and LockMart into ULA was forced as a result of industrial espionage.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      While older economic branches usually have found a modus to do without this (as it ultimately harms everybody), these "young savages" do not know what it means to be civilized and will apparently do anything for a short-term gain.

      Maybe government should have provided a better example.

  • Hell, no
  • by Anonymous Coward

    As much as I hate to defend Uber for absolutely anything, how's this different from a supermarket sending someone to walk through a competitor's store to see what their prices are? They posed as normal customers, collected publicly available data, and used it to improve their own business.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by omnichad ( 1198475 )

      It's not. And as a Lyft driver, his identity was effectively anonymized - he has far less of a standing to even try to sue than Uber.

      • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Monday April 24, 2017 @11:40PM (#54296111)

        > It's not. And as a Lyft driver,

        You seem quite confident. Theft of trade secrets, even through an unwitting proxy to those trade secrets, is still theft. Much would depend on the details of the contract with Uber, and much would depend on whether the software committed acts which the Uber drivers had _not_ agreed to in their contracts. The drivers working for Lyft might not even be empowered, by their Lyft contract, to share that information with Uber, in which case they could not agree to share that data.

        • Theft of trade secrets

          So now the Lyft driver has trade secrets? Really? Maybe Lyft does, but the driver would not.

          Much would depend on the details of the contract with Uber

          The Lyft driver also did not have a contract with Uber.

          software committed acts which the Uber drivers had _not_ agreed to in their contracts,

          The software acts against Lyft's system, not Uber's. The Uber drivers' contracts have nothing to do with this.

          The drivers working for Lyft might not even be empowered, by their Lyft contract, to share that information with Uber, in which case they could not agree to share that data.

          The drivers working for Lyft aren't sharing that information. At all. Uber is getting it directly via Lyft's systems by signing up for fake ride-hailing accounts.

          Did you read anything before responding? Because you sound like you have no idea what y

        • Prices are trade secrets now? I must have gotten the market idea wrong, then.
          • The price between a vendor and their contractors is often a trade secret. The Lyft fares paid to the driver, in this case, are not published to the customer. Those prices are published directly to the Lyft driver.

    • by Elfich47 ( 703900 ) on Monday April 24, 2017 @10:44PM (#54295965)
      Lyft drivers were not anonymized. The driver numbers that Lyft assigned were not anonymized and could be used to track drivers over multiple sessions (or weeks). Uber would determine if someone was a Lyft driver in addition to an Uber driver by actively tracking the locations of the Lyft drivers and then correlating it to the locations of the Uber drivers. Also Uber could track which drivers were driving, when they were driving and where they were driving. I wouldn't be surprised if Uber built profiles on all the drivers they were tracking.

      Uber changed its compensation package if drivers were also Lyft drivers. Uber would offer better fares to Lyft drivers as an inducement to quit Lyft.

      It also means that Uber was tracking Lyft drivers (all Lyft drivers in range) without Lyft's permission and without the driver's permission. While the Lyft drivers may have given permission to Lyft for tracking, they did not give permission to Uber to track them. I expect this to be the crux of the argument.
      • Uber would offer better fares to Lyft drivers as an inducement to quit Lyft.

        Wouldn't this be an inducement for their other drivers to also work for Lyft?

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Noone was aware of this programs existence at the time. Were it public it would have been. As it is though, anyone who was "loyal" to uber while this program was active was just screwed out of free money. Also, saying lyft drivers were "offered more" is hiding the point a bit. They weren't given a better 'package' or anything, the app just offered lyft drivers -more fares- than it did to uber-only drivers, to try to get them to use uber instead..
          • Or to look at it another way, to deprive Lyft of fares by occupying Uber + Lyft drivers with a constant stream of Uber riders.

      • Legal grey area. Not an ethical grey area. Any software engineer that cares about their career should not want Uber in their history. So Uber is killing itself by limiting itself to only the pool of unethical engineers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Any software engineer that cares about their career should not want Uber in their history.

          Depends upon what you want. If money is your game and you're not ethically particular, having Uber on the resume might be a good way to advertise that. Believe it or not there are corporations and investors out there looking for just such mercenary programmers to work on their projects and having a programmer who builds to spec and doesn't ask the wrong questions is a plus for these organizations.

          • Believe it or not there are corporations and investors out there looking for just such mercenary programmers to work on their projects and having a programmer who builds to spec and doesn't ask the wrong questions is a plus for these organizations.

            I make very good money.

  • If they did this in the UK, their argument that drivers were contractors and not employees of Uber may be in doubt - as they were being "monitored" outside the agreed time (i.e. when not working/being paid by Uber) and Uber were discouraging them from taking alternative work.
  • Plastics are largely hydrocarbon molecules. The degradation process is thus likely to release lots of carbon molecules, probably much as methane and carbon dioxide. Although this effort may well solve the problem of solid plastic litter in the environment if totally successful, it could still be an environmental catastrophe by releasing far more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than might otherwise be the case, if plastics were buried and permitted to only degrade slowly.

    • I agree that scrapping Uber's plastics won't help any unless Uber is COMPLETELY BURIED TO ROT SLOWLY! There, I said it.

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