Uber's Ripley Program and Protocol

Uber's Ripley Program and Protocol

According to the report, Uber managers across the globe are trained to page a number that alerts specially-trained staff at the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California. The name itself was inspired by the words of Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley in Aliens, specifically the line "nuke the entire site from orbit".

The tool, dubbed Ripley after the female heroine in the movie Alien, was in use from the spring of 2015 until late in 2016 in cities such as Paris, Hong Kong and Brussels, said Uber spokeswoman Melanie Ensign. In February, the New York Times exposed Uber's use of a software tool called Greyball, which showed enforcement officers a fake version of its app to protect drivers from getting ticketed.

Bloomberg specifically cites a May 2015 incident in Montreal where a team of investigators for the Quebec tax authority raided Uber's local office.

It's no secret that corporations often employ questionable and often downright illegal tactics to hide sensitive, potentially incriminating evidence from investigators.

The team in charge of the system were able to remotely lock computer systems, including smartphones, shut down devices, and change passwords.

For example, Uber's "Greyball" software identified regulators who were trying to hail a ride in an attempt to collect evidence of local law-breaking. As it turns out, that wasn't the only program Uber was using to evade law enforcement. The company used it at least two dozen times in situations with authorities in foreign countries, according to Bloomberg.

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President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington. Whether President Trump is a Call of Duty fan-or he just misspoke-has yet to be determined.

While we know that many companies tend to have a remote "panic button" to shut off computers if a police raid were to occur, Uber's secret tool is on a different level. The three people with knowledge of the tool believe it was justified, however, since they claim authorities outside the USA didn't always come with warrants and often relied on rather broad orders.

The three people with knowledge of the programme say they believe Ripley's use was justified in some cases because police outside the U.S. didn't always come with warrants or relied on broad orders to conduct fishing expeditions.

"Like every company with offices around the world, we have security procedures in place to protect corporate and customer data", Uber said in a statement to Bloomberg. "When it comes to government investigations, it's our policy to cooperate with all valid searches and requests for data".

In the report, people with knowledge of Uber's operations say that the system, called Ripley, was a closely guarded secret. It's also facing at least four other inquiries by the United States government.

Some Uber employees also felt the system slowed investigations that were legally sound, Bloomberg said.

As for software like Ripley, Prey or uLocker, Uber said there's nothing secretive about it.

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