A former Lyft driver has filed a proposed class action lawsuit in California federal court accusing Uber of spying on Lyft drivers’ locations with a secret software program referred to internally as “Hell.”
The software allegedly allowed Uber to track Lyft’s coverage areas and detect which drivers worked for both companies.
The surveillance software is allegedly called Hell as an ironic reference to Uber software it uses to track its drivers and riders known as “God View” or “Heaven.” The software supposedly allowed Uber personnel to gain unauthorized access to Lyft computer systems, pose as Lyft customers and see the locations of Lyft drivers and their unique Lyft identification, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that Uber cross-referenced the location data it gathered on Lyft drivers with its own internal records to figure out which drivers were working for both companies so it could target them “in order to improve the Uber platform and harm the Lyft platform.” The complaint said “Uber accomplished this by incentivizing drivers working on both platforms to work primarily for Uber, thereby reducing the supply of Lyft drivers, which resulted in increased wait times for Lyft customers and diminished earnings for Lyft drivers.” The company would direct “more frequent and more profitable trips” to drivers who were found to also be working for Lyft, encouraging them to primarily work for Uber, the complaint alleges.
The proposed national class is defined in the complaint as “all individuals in the United States who (1) worked as drivers for Lyft, (2) while not working for Uber, and (3) whose private information and whereabouts was obtained Uber by accessing computer systems operated or used by Lyft and the class.” The proposed California class is defined identically, except for removing the words “in the United States.”
The case is Michael Gonzales v. Uber Technologies Inc. et al, case number 3:17-cv-02264, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.