back to article Uber sued by ex-Lyft driver tormented by app maker's 'Hell' spyware

A former Lyft driver is suing Uber alleging the ride-summoning biz spied on his movements and violated privacy, competition, and communications laws. Plaintiff Michael Gonzales, who drove for Lyft from 2012 through November 2014, filed suit in San Francisco, California, on Monday, claiming Uber developed and deployed software …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and an injunction that requires Uber to avoid further violations.

    Bwahahaha... The only injunction to stop Uberian Californication is 10Mt into the San Andreas fault. Nothing short of that.

    The Gospel of the Valley is: "You shall disrupt and Regulations are for losers". Uber is just taking the valley standard behavior to its logical conclusion. What we are observing is exactly what a disruptor (hallow be thy name) which ignores regulations is expected to do. Making Ubers (plural on purpose) comply with the law and have some residual morals is a lost cause - it is against the valley culture (especially the Web2.0 and post-Web2.0 generation).

    Changing this and making it comply with the law means changing the valley mentality. Good luck with that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is another way.

      Their business models are predicated on having a monopoly in a short timeframe. If the non-californian parts of the world aren't fertile ground for monopolies, the cancer will be contained and it will die.

      You just need to encourage reactionary idiots not to vote for far-right governments, who will usher in an era of neo-feudalism, hurting those same idiots first and hardest.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        eh?

        nothing even remotely resembling "far right government" in the birthplace of Uber types. Nor do those owners of such companies typically support (or fund thru $10K USD-a-plate dinners) anything even remotely far-right. Seems that's been pretty much the only "mistake" Uber's owners have made-for until then there was a LOT less outrage over their business model.

      2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        The Californian part of this world wouldn't mind Uber's cash bonfire burning out either. Between Uber's "Assholes win" mission statement and Lyft's horrible software security, the old cabs are a refreshing bit of simplicity.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
      Trollface

      The only injunction to stop Uberian Californication is 10Mt into the San Andreas fault.

      And, with any luck, it'll be the US to the east of the fault that sinks into the sea..

      (I vaguely remember a sci-fi short story about that - Asimov? Clarke? Can't remember..)

    3. Kane Silver badge
      Alert

      "Bwahahaha... The only injunction to stop Uberian Californication is 10Mt into the San Andreas fault. Nothing short of that."

      Arizona Bay.

    4. BillG
      Thumb Up

      The Gospel of the Valley

      @AC wrote: The Gospel of the Valley is: "You shall disrupt and Regulations are for losers".

      Thanks. That explains a lot.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Welcome to the sharing economy

    Where you are treated worse than a commodity, for the benefit of the 1%.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby
      Boffin

      @AC Re: Welcome to the sharing economy

      Sorry, its not a question of a 'sharing economy'.

      The disruption is that you're allowing individuals to skirt the rules many areas have concerning livery service. It allowed non-regulated drivers to operate a 'gypsy cab service' where Uber provided the app and infrastructure for a large percentage (20%) of the cost of the service to manage the credit card processing, payments and logistics of the ride.

      At scale, that's a huge margin once the infrastructure is paid off. Of course Uber is still not profitable (at least that's the word on the street because of the costs of developers, branding and of course the lawyers and PR people. )

      What Uber has done is essentially allows anyone with a car to become a part time hack using their own vehicle.

      The reason you see drivers leaving is that it takes them a year to realize that they are losing money while working for Uber and could make more if they take a minimum wage job in a large metro area. The only reason you do Uber is that there aren't enough 'flexible' hour jobs to go around.

      As someone who's in the 5% but not the 1%, I can tell you that I rarely use uber. My main gripe with cabs in Chicago is that many are the economy Prius types where you can't sit upright in the back seat, or the cab is on its last legs falling apart. So I end up taking Uber Black which is on par with limo services because the limo drivers are driving for Uber when off shift. If I'm out and about, I'll hail a cab.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The reason Uber is not profitable

        Has nothing to do with the cost of developers, branding, lawyers and PR.

        It is because they have deliberately set the rates below a sustainable level to hasten the demise of taxis and prevent similar "ride sharing" competitors who are less well funded from competing. The barriers to entry for this market are tiny, so Uber has erected artificial barriers with their pricing.

        Obviously the plan is that once taxis are all but extinct they can raise prices in markets where competitors like Lyft are weak or non-existent. The riders might complain when prices up by 50%, and the drivers might complain that Uber is keeping almost all of that increase for itself, but there won't be any alternatives at that point.

        1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: The reason Uber is not profitable

          The riders might complain when prices up by 50%, and the drivers might complain that Uber is keeping almost all of that increase for itself, but there won't be any alternatives at that point.

          On the contrary. By the time Uber has cornered the market and can increase prices, there will be no drivers, only self-driving cars.

          Über über alles!

          (Risking invocation of Godwin's Law, I know)

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: @AC Welcome to the sharing economy

        "My main gripe with cabs in Chicago is that many are the economy Prius types where you can't sit upright in the back seat, or the cab is on its last legs falling apart."

        You can blame that on local regulators. Around here, both taxis and private hire cabs have to undergo an annual inspection and will be taken off the road by the regulator if not up to a decent , clean and good mechanical standard. I think, but am not sure, that there is minimum emission/pollution standards too which takes the older cars out of the taxi/minicab cycle too.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

    Was that before or after they realized that design could be used to track their competitors?

    Before anyone in the UK gets too smug that this could not happen there Google the behavior of "Stagecoach" and deregulated bus services. Mrs Thatch's economic advisor (when this happened) wanted an owner operator model of buses like that he had seen in Chile.

    Which explains the UK's 3rd world bus service.

    In IT their bahavior harkens back to NCR when they were the National Cash Register company and their CEO's comment on "Competition" was "the best way to kill a dog is to cut its head off."

    1. William 3 Bronze badge

      Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

      Did you miss your bus this morning?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

      John Smith 19

      John Smith 19

      This sort of thing goes back a long way. The Beeching era of railway cuts was instigated by a government minister who had a road transport business.

      Come to think of of it, in my own life, the UK ( and US ) adminstrations both launched investigations into the best way to teach reading run by proponents of an approach ( phonics) that makes it easy and cheap for publishing companies to produce profitable teaching packages and painting-by-numbers remedial systems, easy to sell at premium prices to cash strapped schools who need a ( compared to the cost of an extra teacher) cheap method to get kids past the targets and local authorities who could get rid of their specialist teachers. A system that give an impression of success that is easy to sell to the public. Everyone's a winner ( except the kids who find reading mechanical and boring).

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

        @Terry 6, actually, phonics (phonetics) is the best way for children to learn to read. I don't know if the textbooks have made a simple and quick method boring and dull. I can easily image it. But, using phonetics, a child can learn to read in about 4 months or less. My mother used phonetics to teach 'remedial reading' to children taught by other methods (the old 'guess' method so popular in the 1970s) and had them reading in no time.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

          > I don't know if the textbooks have made a simple and quick method boring and dull.

          From having to help my children read, I can say that the standard text books are boring and dull. Because we made a habit of reading to our children they rapidly came to understand that the school books were merely there to measure attainment, real books were so much more interesting...

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

            Roland6 Yes. many of the off-the-shelf system actually avoid meaningful text (stories) and use the pages for a glorified word practice. They actually state this explicitely. One example, used with early readers goes something like;

            Cox comes in.

            Rox says " I am sad"

            Cox says "I can fix it"

            Ox comes in.

            [Ox appears on the page, but takes no further part in the narrative. A picture of Ox remains on the pages. I can't remember if it looks ox-like, but I doubt many inner city 5 year olds will know much about oxen. I can't remember if Rox's sad gets fixed.]

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

              Cox comes in.

              Rox says " I am sad"

              Cox says "I can fix it"

              Ox comes in.

              Rox puts Cox in Ox???

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

          Incorrect. Phonics, on its own, is far from sufficient. Being both inaccurate and slow. Phonics combined with a full use of whole language ( not "guessing" but working words out logically) is best. It's what I've used at the most senior level for 30 or so years.

          However, Phonics alone, a Behaviourist approach to learning, will get kids able to read regular words well, and relatively easily. It is certainly one route forward.

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

      Which explains the UK's 3rd world bus service.

      Have you ever taken a bus in the 3rd world? or in the US? UK buses may not be perfect, but they really aren't that bad..

      1. Moosh

        Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

        Agreed, the UK's bus service is miles better than many other European public transportation systems, infinitely better than the US's, and isn't even comparable to third world transportation.

        1. kain preacher

          Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

          wait the US has bus service ? When did this happen.

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

            wait the US has bus service ? When did this happen?

            Um since about 1914... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greyhound_Lines

      2. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

        @Phil O'Sophical Guess your area isn't served by Arriva...

      3. Ian Michael Gumby
        Boffin

        Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

        Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

        Which explains the UK's 3rd world bus service.

        Have you ever taken a bus in the 3rd world? or in the US? UK buses may not be perfect, but they really aren't that bad..

        -=-

        In Chicago, what makes the bus service bad is the cars that park in the bus lane causing disruption. Or you can take the EL which isn't as bad as NY but getting there.

        I still have my oyster card from riding the tube in London. Not bad. Cleaner than the EL, and you probably won't get mugged...

      4. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

        Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

        you want bad bus service?

        try anywhere not a major metro. even in California. I'm not even an hour south of San Francisco but services are practically useless. limited scheduled runs and even those are completely missed often. Sitting at a bus stop during a weekday afternoon, when busses are scheduled to run every half hour...for an hour and a half...and no bus even comes by on the route. that's just for starters.

        No excuses for such considering the budget and promises of using all that tax money to actually make the city's services useful for anyone with a job or schedule to keep.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: "Unlike Lyft, Uber changes the tokens it uses..identify drivers, to prevent such tracking."

          Phukov Andigh

          Well, if you've ever watched "Who framed Roger Rabbit" this would be no surprise..

          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096438/synopsis?ref_=ttpl_pl_syn

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Information source

    I'm just wondering how Uber managed to Lyft this information...

  6. JimC

    ...serious driver retention problem

    In this grave new world of deskilled jobs and casual labour masquerading as self employment, I wonder if the likes of Uber really care about retention, just so long as the supply of new peons is adequate to replace the ones who give up. I forsee a world where increasingly impoverished workers migrate from casual job to casual job in utterly different industries, desperately hoping that one or another might turn out to bring home a living wage.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: ...serious driver retention problem

      JimC - all those years ago I thought I was a paperboy, but in reality I was a self-employed news delivery platform.

      1. JimC

        Re: paperboy (was ...serious driver retention problem)

        Although at least when I was a paperboy I had a defined shift and a guaranteed wage...

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: I wonder if the likes of Uber really care about retention

      Well if they don't know, they will soon.

      I think that a turnover of 97% means a lot of people that say negative things about the company. If one unhappy customer drives away 10 potential ones, this is a tsunami of dissatisfaction in the making.

      And I can't wait for that tsunami to hit Uber's shores.

    3. bazza Silver badge

      Re: ...serious driver retention problem

      If, as seems likely, Uber lose their appeal against an employment tribunal verdict here in the UK, they will have to pay the minimum wage in the UK. And National Insurance. And maternity / paternity leave. And redundancy. And every other cost that's part of 'employment'.

    4. 2Nick3

      Re: ...serious driver retention problem

      I wonder what the retention is after a week, a month, and 3 months. I bet there is a decent number of people who never give a ride, either because they never bother or spend a day in frustration trying to catch a booking and getting beat to it. And I bet there is a significant portion of drivers who, after giving a ride or two, decide that that kind of work isn't for them and quit. And another good portion that find a "regular" job and quit.

      The one year number looks bleak, but it's only a single data point.

  7. Arctic fox
    Headmaster

    There is something about this company that reminds me of something.

    Something that could and should be prosecuted under the RICO act.

  8. kain preacher

    Sadly Uber does fill a void When I go out drinking, thre are lots of cabs to take me home from the bar. Now getting a cab from my house can take up to an hour were as uber is 5 minutes. Cab want to be were the can can get a quick fare so no cabs driving around housing. I've ran into issues were the cab did not show up.

    Then there is San Francisco. were you have a 50 50 chance of get professional driver. But hey at least they dont take you the long way around. In fact they take you the fast way possible to get more fares. That means driving like they are on a race track and running red lights. w Worst cabbie was during pride. I should gotten out but hey I wanted to go to the next party. The Guy craned up the radio playing EDM me and my friends were sliding around. You would of thought we were in the movie bullit . We got out ofthe cab and walked a mile in heels.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      > You would of thought...

      Arrrrrgh!

    2. kain preacher

      I apologize for the bad spelling and grammar as I've been up for over 24 hours.

  9. Roj Blake

    Disruptor

    I've come to the conclusion that when disruptor is used to describe a tech company, it's actually a synonym for arsehole.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Disruptor

      Or expensively funded vapourware, maybe.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Disruptor

        "Or expensively funded vapourware, maybe."

        Which often comes out of arseholes.

        The old saying 'There is no such thing as bad publicity' is being stretched to its limits by Uber, so far I have not seen any good publicity about them.

        Maybe it's Uber that should be disrupted?

  10. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    so who do they sue

    when they work for BOTH outfits? If one is doing rotten deeds to enhance the business of the other, do drivers double down on the lawsuits?

    Seems almost every car with an Uber sticker also has a Lyft one around here.

  11. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    All it needs is a "downline"

    and Uber/Lyft, etc would be just like Amway and Mary Kay.

    The biggest sink to profitability is that the owners of the actual company want as many drivers as possible so they get more cash to skim. If that reduces the amount of fares any single driver in an area receives, doesn't matter to the Pimp..err..."app" company at all.

  12. Paul 195

    The list of criminal activities carried out by this vile company seems to get longer and longer. Can't they just throw Travis Kalnick into jail for a bit? Now that would be truly "disruptive".

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