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What is Uber Kill Switch? Company used it in India too

A report has alleged that Uber officials used a software procedure called 'Kill Switch' to stop government agencies and police from getting secret company data. Know what is Uber Kill Switch.

By: HT TECH
Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 13:40 IST
Know what is Uber Kill Switch. (AP)

In a shocking revelation, a report says Uber top executives have asked its employees on various occasions to use what they have dubbed as 'Kill Switch' to prevent police and regulators from accessing sensitive data during raids on its offices. As reported by The Guardian, the officials have been instructed to block authorities from accessing its IT systems as part of a sophisticated global operation by the Silicon Valley company to thwart law enforcement officers who are looking for wrongdoing by the company. According to the report that is being referred to as Uber files, the company has deployed the Kill Switch at least 12 times in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary India and Romania.

In fact, even former CEO Travis Kalanick himself wanted the "kill switch" implemented to remotely cut off access to devices in an Amsterdam office to Uber's internal systems during a raid by authorities, Washington Post reported.

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"Please hit the kill switch ASAP," he wrote in an email to an employee. "Access must be shut down in AMS (Amsterdam)."

Know what is Uber Kill Switch and how it can be used.

Uber’s Kill Switch was introduced by the company to switch off certain parts of computer systems in the event of serious regulatory action, like a tax raid to block law enforcement agencies from accessing large amounts of company data from that particular office. The taxi service provider developed its kill switch systems to protect the company's interest if it was raided by police and enforcement officials to gather evidence. If found by authorities, this data could have led to shutting down of Uber’s unlicensed taxi service, impoundment of vehicles or prosecution of drivers. Earlier, the company used a software named ‘Casper’ and later ‘Ripley’.

Uber Manager, Rob van der Woude provided the details of the Kill Switch and how they used to deploy it in his mail. It says, “Whenever the local team was called to provide the information, we shut them down from the system making it practically impossible for them to give out any info despite their willingness to do so.” He also shared that in the meantime they kept directing the authorities to talk to BV representatives instead. BV being the global headquarters of Uber.

As investigated by The Indian Express, India was also one of those countries where Uber deployed its unique blocking software.

The earliest mention of the kill switch being used to restrict access to Uber files is related to two raids in France in late 2014.

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First Published Date: 11 Jul, 14:39 IST
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