- Uber has reportedly deployed a custom spyware tool to figure out who’s working for competitors and steal them.
- This activity has caused great disturbance to GoCatch, who couldn’t explain how they lost one driver after another.
- Uber denies that the spyware was part of their business plan in Australia, and accuse a former employee.
Uber is the most known and successful rideshare company in the world, but it’s not the only one. In several locations around the globe, they have to face fierce competition and deploy all available methods to help their business stay afloat. One of these competition scenes is Australia, where Uber has to play against GoCatch, a rideshare company that is backed by local billionaires like James Douglas Parker, an investor who occupies a position on the country’s top ten wealthiest person list. Apparently, Uber felt that the menace of GoCatch in the Australian market is way too large to manage through conventional methods, so they deployed a spyware tool called “Surfcam” against them.
Developed internally by Uber Australia, Surfcam helped Uber to hook drivers from GoCatch, essentially starving their competitors of contractors and hurting their operation on a fundamental level. The spyware fed Uber’s offices in the country with data such as the location of the competitor cars, the driver’s name, the car registration, and more. This allowed Uber to make targeted offers to these particular drivers, offering marginally or significantly better deals than GoCatch, and converting them to become their own contractors. It’s a simple and diabolical plan, and that is why its revelation is hurting Uber more than the program helped them bash the competition.
GoCatch responded to this news through their CEO, Andrew Campbell, who has made the following statement:
“The fact that Uber used hacking technologies to steal our data and our drivers is appalling. It had a massive impact on our business. It sets a really dangerous precedent for the Australian economy and Australian businesses as well. It tells every multinational company to come to Australia and follow the same practice. As an Australian small business, a technology start-up business based in Australia that’s improving efficiency and service levels in the taxi industry, to have a company come to Australia and get away with that type of behavior is … it’s disgusting.”
In this statement, you may notice that Mr. Campbell is highlighting the fact that Uber is getting away with what they have done, and the reason for this is because the use of Surfcam by Uber was known and reported to the authorities since 2017, while the same methods were employed in other countries such as Singapore. Since then, Australian authorities did nothing to protect the antagonist GoCatch or taxis in the country. Uber has officially admitted the existence of the spyware, but they accuse a former senior employee of acting under his own authority. As one of their spokespersons stated:
“We have made significant changes to our leadership team, including our CEO, and to the fundamentals of how the company operates, putting integrity at the core of everything we do. We are on record consistently welcoming competition; we have robust policies and guidelines which define acceptable and ethical practices across our global operations for the use of non-confidential, publicly available and commercially available information in compliance with relevant Australian and international law.”
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