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The European Union’s top court has ruled that ride-hailing service Uber should be regulated like a taxi company, a decision that could change the way it functions across the continent. (Dec. 20)
AP

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber confirmed Thursday that it once used technology to shield data from law enforcement during unexpected raids of its offices outside the U.S., another example of the company using questionable tactics in its pursuit of market share.

The tool, dubbed Ripley after the female heroine in the movie Alien, was in use from the spring of 2015 until late in 2016 in cities such as Paris, Hong Kong and Brussels, said Uber spokeswoman Melanie Ensign. Ripley allowed engineers based at the ride-hailing company’s San Francisco headquarters to quickly deny remote access to driver and customer data. 

Some Uber employees felt the system hindered legitimate investigations, while others believed its use was justified when police didn’t come with warrants or specific-enough data requests, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on Ripley Thursday.

The program’s name was a nod to the character played by Sigourney Weaver, who is prepared to annihilate herself and her environment if it means ensuring that her space alien foes die in the process.

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.

For example, Uber’s “Greyball” software identified regulators who were…