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Ex-employee spills the beans on Uber using spyware to outrun rival in Australia

Ex-employee spills the beans on Uber using spyware to outrun rival in Australia
  • The spyware enabled the ridesharing company to track its competitor’s cars and capture information such as driver’s name, car details among others.
  • Uber deployed the spyware against an Australian taxi service company known as GoCatch.

Ridesharing giant Uber is now in the scanner for tapping into rival’s information for unfair gains. It had reportedly deployed spyware against an Australian rideshare company GoCatch.

An ex-employee of Uber told media that the ‘Surfcam’ spyware was used to rope in drivers from GoCatch. In addition, driver information was also believed to be captured.

Key highlights

  • Uber ventured in Australia and began operations in 2012. On the other hand, GoCatch was started in 2011.
  • Surfcam was developed in Uber’s head office at Australia in 2015. The company has confirmed the spyware program’s development.
  • The spyware captured real-time information of GoCatch’s vehicles, as well as collected its drivers’ details.
  • The former employee mentioned that this information was used to lure GoCatch drivers by providing attractive employment offers to work with Uber.
  • After the incident came into light, Uber has said that it has ‘prohibited’ the spyware.

Ex-employee tells it all

The unnamed former employee gave a detailed account of why the spyware was used in the first place. “Surfcam allowed Uber Australia to see in real time all of the competitor cars online and to scrape data such as the driver's name, car registration, and so on. GoCatch would lose customers due to poaching of its drivers draining their supply. With fewer and fewer drivers, GoCatch would eventually fold,” told the employee to Four Corners.

GoCatch expresses displeasure

Following the spyware disclosure, GoCatch mentioned that the tactic damaged its operations significantly. “The fact that Uber used hacking technologies to steal our data and our drivers is appalling, It had a massive impact on our business,” said Andrew Campbell, co-founder, and chief executive officer of GoCatch, ABC reported.

Meanwhile, an Uber spokesperson stated that Surfcam was disbanded after the incident. She also said that the former employee did it under his own authority.

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