[2017-05-08] NH Today – Tech Talk
What’s interesting about this? Uber is possibly up on federal criminal charges.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing date: 05/08/2017
Uber Possibly Up on Federal Criminal Charges
Craig Peterson: Hey, Craig Peterson here. If you’ve been following Uber for a while, you know that well, a large part of the business plan is based on, I’m not quite sure if this is legal or not. Well, this morning with Jack Heath, we talked a little bit about that and Uber’s presence and, you know, they might be up on some federal charges here.
Jack Heath: Hey welcome back and welcome to Craig Peterson from our Tech Talk side of things. Technology, a big and growing part of our lives. And for Craig, it’s not new but it’s evolving. We welcome him to the Auto Fair listener lines. How are you, sir?
Craig: Hey good morning. Doing well. A little bit of the clogged-up stuff going on with all the pollen. I hope this rain will help knock it back a bit.
Jack: Ok. You’re not alone. One day I am, one day I’m not. A lot of it, it seems. We’re trying to get our allergies done. Hey Craig, you got some interesting stuff on Uber.
Craig: Yeah. This is really interesting. Uber used to start its pitches when it was trying to raise money by saying we don’t think this is quite legal. I don’t know. Have you ever heard that before, Jack? What a way to start a pitch. And the investors would look at it and say wow. Ok. That means no one is in this market yet. So if it’s not quite legal, maybe we want to get involved. And Uber made a huge, huge deal about that over, you know, their whole launch period. And now of course, Uber, you can call an Uber. You can have a private vehicle that will pick you up and it’s usually a pleasant ride. Different than taxis. I call Ubers all of the time. And you can just use your phone. It’s so convenient. It’s wonderful. But it’s not legal everywhere yet. In fact, it hasn’t been legal in most places for a long time.
Jack: Quick, quick question Craig. What’s that status in Portsmouth? Remember they were fighting it, opposing it. And remember, wasn’t that a holdout Portsmouth?
David: So Portsmouth is kind of interesting. It honestly depends on what police officer you talk to in the city of Portsmouth. You’re supposed to go to the police department and get a specific background check done for the city.
Jack: If you’re going to drive as an Uber driver.
David: If you’re going to drive as an Uber driver. But the enforcement of it is a very gray area.
Jack: So if you’re an Uber contractor and you live in the Stratham, you got a call to pick someone up in Portsmouth, in Market Square in the evening and bring them home, you’re going into Portsmouth, see what I’m saying. It’s a little gray, right?
David: It is. Now you can. Without that background check you can drop off at Portsmouth but picking up in Portsmouth, you’re supposed to have that.
Jack: It’s kind of murky. Anyway, Craig, continue.
Craig: Well, and that’s one of the big things about Uber and why many towns have been complaining. Hey, listen, if you have a license to pick people up in your taxi. You’ve paid for a medallion depending on the city that you’re in. You’ve probably have some sort of a background check. You know who you are. You’re a decent enough person. We’re tracking complaints against you, at the town level, not the state level as well. There’s a lot of things built into taxis that you just don’t have with an Uber driver and vice versa. There’s a lot of advantages to Uber. Now, they’ve spread. Of course, they’ve become very popular. They’re all over the place. But Uber was, apparently, for quite a while here, and the numbers are kind of varying, but they had a special module in there that they called Grayball. This is a piece of software that if you were an Uber user… so let’s say, Jack, you wanted to use Uber. You download the app. They do a little check to make sure you are who you say you are. And you link in your payment method. So you are now downloading Uber. You’re going to use it. And now you schedule for someone to pick you up outside the studio today. What’ll happen is Uber will show you on the screen the little car’s driving around so you have an idea where the drivers are and how quickly the guy’s going to be there to pick you up, or the gal and her car, and you’re going to have a pretty decent experience. But Uber’s Grayball software would look at the way you’re paying, the credit card number, where you registered, where your phone is, and say hey, wait a minute, you smell like a cop. And what the accusation here is they were using this Greyball software, particularly in Portland, Oregon. And if Uber thought you might be a police officer, they would show you that there were no cars available. Just bottom line here. There were some cars driving around, but none of them will ever pick you up. So the idea was Uber, this whole probe here, the criminal investigation is hey listen Uber, you know better. You tried to skirt the law. You tried to skirt the investigators. You tried to stop it for the accounts who didn’t want it.
Jack: Alright. Thank you, Craig. http://CraigPeterson.com. Check him out. Craig Peterson. Thanks, Craig.