Last week the New York Times reported Uber has been using an app called ‘greyball’. Per the Times, the wildly popular ride-sharing company “has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been banned.”
Greyball utilizes the Uber app, plus other data collection tools to identify and avoid problem passengers and authorities who hail Uber rides as part of larger sting operations.
One would think that most people, especially the millions of satisfied Uber customers, would applaud the company for using such hi-tech methods to protect themselves and their customers, but not the establishment Times. Are the New York Times so intertwined with the State that they don’t even hide carrying water for them anymore? The fact that the New York Times seems to think this is some major scandal goes to show how out of touch they are.
Jeffery Tucker at FEE sums up the situation perfectly, “There is nothing wrong with knowing your customer. There is nothing wrong with refusing to pick up people who mean you harm. There is nothing illegal about refusing rides to anyone, for any reason, and this is how it should be.”
To anyone who has been following Uber’s legal issues regularly, it is easy to see why their legal team approved the use of greyball, as the State’s war on Uber has been going on for some time. In Massachusetts, for example, Uber pays a .20 cent per ride tax, part of which actual goes toward subsidizing the taxi industry directly. That’s not a joke. But what could possibly be the reason for all the hostility on the government’s part? Despite their rhetoric, it’s not to protect consumers. Uber’s revolutionary business model threatens the multi-million dollar cronyist taxi monopoly that dominates most big cities.
Uber has since come out and said they would no longer use Greyball to avoid law enforcement, though they will continue to use the technology for promotions and fraud prevention. That’s a real shame, too, as Uber’s model of efficiency and ability to provide quality transportation for cheap rates gets put on the altar of crony capitalism.