Ride-hailing company Uber is facing yet another public relations nightmare after details emerged of an internal program that was allegedly used to spy on rival Lyft's drivers who also worked shifts on Uber.
The program is alleged to have been run by Uber between 2014 and 2016, and reportedly showed Uber employees which of the tracked drivers were driving for both Lyft and Uber, helping Uber figure out how to lure those drivers away from its rival.
Such information would provide Uber with a crucial edge in a business where finding enough people to drive is a constant battle.
How "Hell" apparently works is by Uber spoofing the Lyft app, and pretending to be Lyft users continuously requesting rides in different cities to find out which drivers were working where through their unique Lyft driver IDs. According to The Information, Uber would then be able to collect enough data over a period of time to be able to profile Lyft drivers and match them to their own driver profiles, thus being able to pre-empt Lyft and be ahead in the competition for drivers in some cities.
This revelation comes in the same week that Uber's head of public policy and communications, Rachel Whetstone, resigned from the company after less than two years after joining them from Google.
This is also not the first time that Uber has been accused of using questionable internal "secret" programs, in March 2017 the company was said to be using a program called Greyball to identify and evade government authorities who try to clamp down on the cab hailing service.
So far there have been no reports of Uber using a similar program against any of its competitors in Afrika, but the company's entry into the continent has faced significant opposition from traditional cab operators who see the low prices as a threat to their margins, and from governments looking to tax their revenues.