Skeletons continue to fall out from Uber's closet

CIOL Writers
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Uber's tryst with controversies is far from over. After a report in Bloomberg that alleged that Uber had a secret tool to remotely lock down equipment in the company’s foreign offices to thwart any raids from the local authorities, the cab-aggregator itself confirmed the news.

Uber spokeswoman Melanie Ensign said this tool — no longer in use — could lock computers and smartphones and change passwords remotely from the company's headquarters in San Francisco.

Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Uber used the tool, known as Ripley, from spring 2015 until late 2016 in several cities, including Paris, Hong Kong, Brussels, Amsterdam and Montreal. In one case Ripley was deployed to prevent Canadian tax investigators, who believed Uber had violated tax laws, from collecting evidence even though they had a warrant. As soon as they burst into the Montreal office, Uber staff paged the headquarters in San Francisco who remotely logged everyone in that office off their devices.

Bloomberg said some Uber employees felt the system hindered legitimate investigations, while some people believed its use was justified when police didn't come with warrants or specific-enough data requests.

Ripley now joins the rogues’ gallery of Uber’s other sketchy, codenamed software tools, including “Hell,” “Greyball,” “God View,” “Firehouse,” and “Surfcam.” The company is being probed by the US Justice Department for at least five alleged schemes.