Lyft Drivers Sue Uber Over "Hell" Tracking Software

Lyft drivers are suing Uber over secret software allegedly used to track them.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto

A group of Lyft drivers are suing Uber following the release of a report claiming the ride-sharing company used secret software codenamed "Hell" to track them.

The class-action lawsuit, filed Monday in a San Francisco federal court, accused Uber of conducting "illegal, surreptitious, and unauthorized remote electronic surveillance," according to Bloomberg. Reports on the tracking software that circulated earlier this month said its primary purpose was to find Uber drivers that also drove for Lyft, so that they could be targeted with incentives and encouraged to work for Uber exclusively.

The name "Hell" reportedly comes from the secret program being a parallel to the "Heaven" or "God View" software that Uber uses to track its own drivers. Uber reportedly tracked Lyft drivers by creating fake accounts and compiling information on driver locations. This was cross-referenced against the movements of Uber's own drivers to determine which ones were working for both companies. 

The lawsuit alleges Uber's actions constitute violation of privacy under California state law, violations of federal electronic communications law, and unfair competition. Lead plaintiff Michael Gonzales is seeking damages and a permanent court order barring Uber from committing similar actions in the future.

The suit indicates the "Hell" software could morph into another major, drawn-out scandal for Uber, which has been plagued with problems all year. These include allegations of sexual harassment by a female former engineer, and an ongoing legal battle with Waymo. The former Google self-driving car project is suing Uber, claiming it benefitted from stolen autonomous-car tech.