Uber to Ban 'Greyball' Tool Used to Stymie Regulators

Technology Associated Press

FILE - This Wednesday, March 1, 2017, file photo shows an exterior view of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. Officials in Portland, Ore., are calling for an investigation into Uber's use of software to identify and reject hails from city ... code enforcers when it was operating illegally in the city. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File) (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Uber is dismantling a secret weapon it used against local regulators who have been trying to curtail or shut down its ride-hailing service in some cities around the world.

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The about-face announced Wednesday comes less than a week after a report published in The New York Times exposed the existence of a technology feature nicknamed "Greyball" that identified regulators posing as riders while trying to collect evidence that Uber's service was breaking local laws governing taxis.

The program served up a fake version of Uber's popular app to make it appear the undercover regulators were summoning a car, only to have the ride never show up or canceled.

Uber now says it will ban greyballing undercover regulators, although it may take time to block the program completely.