Uber Reportedly Had System to Stymie Police Raids

Bloomberg: Uber used remote tool to shut off devices during police raids

Bloomberg notes that Uber isn't the only company to remotely lock up computer systems when the police turn up, but most companies will unlock them after reviewing the warrants and ensuring everything is in order.

San Francisco - Uber used a secret software tool to thwart police raids in foreign countries at least two dozen times from the spring of 2015 to late 2016, according to a new report.

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.

The report detailed a May 2015 raid by investigators for the Quebec tax authority which had headquarters alerted and able to remotely log off all the computers in Uber's Montreal office.

"Like every company with offices around the world, we have security procedures in place to protect corporate and customer data". "When it comes to government investigations, it's our policy to cooperate with all valid searches and requests for data". Bloomberg says the system was operated from Uber's office in San Francisco.

Albert Gidari, director of privacy at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet & Society added that companies often protect networks and computers against dawn raids where the scope of authority is in question and the data to be seized is in another jurisdiction.




Ripley was named for the heroine played by Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" films, and it was inspired by a line of dialogue from Aliens, the second film in the franchise.

The company reportedly used its Ripley tool during government raids in Amsterdam, Brussels, Hong Kong and Paris.

As it turns out, that wasn't the only program Uber was using to evade law enforcement. But in the case with Ripley, the company said it was in the right. The investigators were said to have left empty handed.

A year after the incident, the judge in the Quebec tax authority's lawsuit against Uber wrote that "Uber wanted to shield evidence of its illegal activities".

While many companies have remote "panic buttons" that shut off computers during police raids, Uber's secret system stood out for the number of times it was employed. The tool allows Uber to show enforcement officers worldwide a fake version of its application, Greyball was part of a program called VTOS, short for "violation of terms of service", which Uber created to root out people it thought were using or targeting its service improperly.

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