Uber has been experiencing its own brand of hell for the past several months. Complaints about mistreatment of female and LGBT employees, allegations of trade-secret theft, faulty self-driving software, its tone-deaf manchild CEO: headlines about these and other unsavory matters have fueled a worldwide campaign to #deleteUber since the beginning of the year.
Given all that, you might not be surprised to hear that Uber is heading to court again. This time, it's because the company has been charged with unleashing hell on its top U.S. competitor, Lyft.
We don't mean that metaphorically: Lyft says that Uber literally used a program code-named "Hell" to give it an edge in the ride-sharing game.
According to the suit that Lyft filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Hell did a couple of things:
1. It let Uber see what Lyft's prices were in a given area and how many drivers Lyft had there.
2. It let Uber see which of its drivers were also working for Lyft.
Unlike most atheists we know, Uber hasn't denied the existence of Hell. However, the company has said that it didn't use a program like Hell to increase the odds that someone driving for both Uber and Lyft would be dispatched to pick up an Uber rider.* If it had, that would've taken one of Lyft's drivers off the road--at least momentarily--and it could've made drivers more inclined to favor Uber because they were receiving more dispatches from the company.
We won't know how Uber did use Hell until the case goes to trial. However, at the very least, it appears that Hell allowed Uber to invade the privacy of Lyft drivers. It may have violated unfair competition laws, too.
And if all this sounds a little familiar, that's because it is: Uber recently made headlines for using a different app called "Greyball" to dodge city regulators in places where Uber hadn't been approved to operate. Kinda makes you wonder what else the company has up its sleeve, no?
* Uber's denial carries slightly less weight since it appears that the company has lied about other things, like its use of proprietary technology owned by Waymo and its parent, Googe.