Uber Reportedly Had System to Stymie Police Raids

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The Uber HQ team overseeing Ripley could remotely change passwords and otherwise lock up data on company-owned smartphones, laptops, and desktops as well as shut down the devices.

From spring 2015 until late 2016, the firm's employees in San Francisco regularly deployed the secret tool to shut off computers in Uber foreign offices to hide any incriminating data from local authorities, according to Bloomberg.

When police would raid Uber offices - which they did in cities such as Quebec, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris - select Uber employees would reportedly page the company's San Francisco headquarters, where someone would remotely log all employees off their computers.

The agency mentions an instance that occurred in Montreal in May 2015, when 10 tax investigators raided Uber's office with a warrant to search for evidence of an alleged violation.

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

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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 move often made it impossible for authorities investigating the company to retrieve information. According to Uber the software is necessary to protect company data, along with the privacy of passengers, drivers and Uber employees.

If you thought that Ripley was the only trick Uber had up its sleeve, wait till you hear about their other program called Greyball.

An Uber tool called Greyball used data collected from the Uber app and other methods to find and circumvent officials, the NYT reported on Friday.

The software, named after Sigourney Weaver's character in the Alien franchise, would lock down computers to prevent the police or anyone outside the company from accessing data. But as he works to rebrand Uber in the eyes of the public and set the company back on track, he continues to uncover new messes that Kalanick left behind, including regulatory threats to Uber's business overseas, and a major data breach made worse by former employees' efforts to hide it. And it is true that law enforcement doesn't necessarily have a right to every piece of company data simply because a warrant of some sort exists.

Most companies don't expect police to raid their offices, but Uber isn't most companies.

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