The ride-sharing market was in full bloom in the U.S. between 2014 and the start of 2016. Uber was then the leader in that market, but little did anyone know that Uber used a tactic to its advantage to remain on top of the game. If the practice was legal or not remains a question.
A technology website The Information has revealed that Uber used a secret program called "Hell" to track drivers from its competitor Lyft. The secret software-based strategy had the ability to know how many Lyft drivers were available for new rides and where they were.
The bigger edge the "Hell" program gave Uber was the ability to track and determine those drivers who were driving for both Uber and Lyft. It has helped Uber find ways to pull those drivers away from its rival. The surveillance went on from between 2014 to 2016.
The report also says that only a few people know about the program including a small group of data scientists and Uber executives led by its embattled CEO Travis Kalanick. The name "hell" appears to be cleverly inspired by the name of Uber's dashboard to track its own users called "God view" or " Heaven".
The Hell program worked by creating fake Lyft accounts and using software to trick the company's system into thinking the accounts were in a certain location. With that, Uber could then track the nearest Lyft drivers to the fake location.
The Hell operators also found a way to arrange the locations of the fake accounts throughout a particular city to make sure they could view the entire area.
"Hell" reportedly ended in early 2016. Uber refused to comment on the issue. Uber has been having several major problems lately. A former employee accused the company of workplace sexism. Kalanick was also recorded yelling at an Uber driver. Two of the company's top executives also resigned from Uber due to the controversies.
Lyft said in a statement that while they are aware that they are in a competitive industry, it would be a cause for concern if the allegations are true.