Surveillance began because the company was charged with using “secret” software to allow operations in areas where it was prohibited or restricted.
The software, called “greyball”, helps it identify officials looking to stop a running service.
It is thought the shade of gray has been used in some areas, including Portland, Oregon, where the ride service is still seeking official approval to operate.
In these areas, transportation regulators have posed as passengers to prove that the company was operating illegally. Greyball figured out who the officials were and prevented them from making reservations with the company’s drivers.
In a letter sent last week to the administration of Portland, Uber said it has used “very little” baseball software in the city and has not used it since April 2015 when it was Operation license.
Uber’s use of software was reported by New York earlier this year. Uber defends its use in a blog saying the software has helped it work if a ride request is legal. It has helped Uber restrict fraud and protect the driver from harm, it added.
It is not clear what penalties Uber will face if the investigation finds that it has acted illegally.
The criminal investigation came at a difficult time for Uber has faced criticism on many fronts. The company is currently fighting a lawsuit from automaker driven by Google Inc., which supports Waymo.
By: Anna Lee