Uber developed and extensively used a tool for protecting its many divisions against police raids, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter. The software whose existence wasn't widely known throughout the company was called Ripley and effectively acted as a remote management system specifically designed for locking down computers at Uber's satellite offices. Ripley was used from the second quarter of 2015 throughout the entirety of 2016 on at least two dozen occasions, having been primarily aimed at preventing authorities from collecting incriminating evidence against Uber's units in foreign countries, sources claim.
The ride-hailing service provider is said to have used Ripley to thwart police investigations in Quebec, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Hong Kong, and has likely employed it in other cities. Uber's former legal chief Salle Yoo was supposedly the one who suggested the creation of the app following some issues with foreign administrations. The program wouldn't delete any files but would initiate complete computer lockdowns which wouldn't be reversible without approval from San Francisco, rendering such stations entirely unusable. Due to the fact that details about Ripley were only divulged on a need-to-know basis inside the company, many employees weren't aware of the software's existence, having reportedly been distressed when asked by police officers to log into their stations during raids and being unable to do so. Uber's security team headed by recently fired Joe Sullivan collaborated on the development of Ripley which hasn't been used in over a year, according to the report.
The San Francisco, California-based startup didn't directly address the claims outlined in Bloomberg's report, having only said it always cooperated with authorities and will continue doing so. Recent developments are indicative of a different story, with Uber's numerous controversies leading to multiple federal investigations into the company's practices in the United States. In combination with other issues, the firm's aggressive expansion strategy that often saw it clash with regulators around the world ultimately led to the ousting of its co-founder Travis Kalanick whom several major investors pressured to relinquish his position of Chief Executive Officer last summer, having claimed the state of the company is unsustainable and a change in leadership needed should Uber ensure a future for itself. The world's most valuable startup is presently in the process of trying to repair its image under the leadership of new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi who's gradually mending relations with regulators and controlling costs while simultaneously preparing for a 2019 IPO, according to his own claims.