The team overseeing the software is capable of remotely changing passwords, lock up data on company-owned smartphones, laptops, desktops and well as shut down the devices at a moments notice.
The company allegedly used the system at least 24 times from spring 2015 until late 2016, but the report does not claim that Uber used the system for any USA offices. It was developed as the "unexpected visitor protocol" after a police raid in Brussels seized the company's financial, payments and worker documents.
Per Bloomberg, once instance occurred in Montreal in May 2015 where around 10 investigators from the provincial tax authority raided Uber's office with a warrant to search for evidence pertaining to an alleged tax violation against the company.
"Like every company with offices around the world, we have security procedures in place to protect corporate and customer data".More news: Area braces for winter weather
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'When it comes to government investigations, it's our policy to cooperate with all valid searches and requests for data. The company's employees in Montreal were able to send a secret signal to a special team at Uber's headquarters in San Francisco. The move often made it impossible for authorities investigating the company to retrieve information.
The use of this tool raises questions for Uber simply because there is now a growing list of eyebrow-raising technological tactics the company has employed during its meteoric rise from Bay Area phenomenon to global powerhouse over the past nine years.
Ripley, the name of the software, took reportedly took its name form Sigourney Weaver's character in the 1979 sci-fi movie "Alien". According to Uber the software is necessary to protect company data, along with the privacy of passengers, drivers and Uber employees.
It's not the first time that Uber has developed tools to evade officials, some of which are under investigation in the US. Bloomberg also points out that other companies in the past have shut off computers ahead of raids so they could carefully read the warrant and learn exactly which materials were being requested. After a second raid in Paris, the sources say Salle Yoo, Uber's general counsel at the time, had the IT department begin working on a system that could hide internal records from investigators. The tool ran a fake version of Uber that wouldn't actually let government authorities hail rides whenever they'd attempt to launch a sting operation.