Uber Might Have Been Trying To Dodge Investigations With This Tool

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It is said to have "routinely" used the system more than 20 times between spring 2015 until late 2016, in places as far afield as Canada, Brussels and Hong Kong ...

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.

Like managers at Uber's hundreds of offices overseas, they'd been trained to page a number that alerted specially trained staff at company headquarters in San Francisco.

"Employees aware of its existence eventually took to calling it Ripley, after Sigourney Weaver's flamethrower-wielding hero in the Alien movies".

Company spokeswoman Melanie Ensign confirmed that the tool existed, but said it was no longer in use.

Last February, the NYT revealed Uber used a Greyball software tool that showed officers a fake app to avoid driver tickets. Dara Khosrowshahi has, at times, seemed less like management than mopping exercise.

Uber (Private:UBER) had a remote system called Ripley that could shut off access to all of the electronics in an office raided by law enforcement, according to Bloomberg. Uber then cooperated with a second search warrant and agreed to collect provincial taxes for each ride, Bloomberg said.

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.

Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi addressing his new team at Uber's San Francisco headquarters in late August.

The ride-sharing company Uber confirms it had technology to shield company data when law enforcement raided offices outside the U.S. Apparently paging that number goes straight to specially trained staff who can remotely lock computer systems in Uber's offices across the world. "When it comes to government investigations, it's our policy to cooperate with all valid searches and requests for data".

Ensign said Ripley, which was initiated before the Uber hired a team of security experts, was retired because it did not work properly.

The tax investigators wound up leaving without the company documents they had a warrant to obtain, reported Bloomberg, citing people with knowledge of the event.

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