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It is actually just that straightforward. In the jurisdictions where Uber has already admitted to using Greyball to avoid local authorities (eg Portland), they did so to evade laws that were directed specifically at their operation.

It is true that Uber consistently claims that laws that apply to commercial livery do not apply to them--whether it was ever true is debatable. Courts have not been sympathetic to this claim. But, regardless, now, years later, legislatures & city councils have added "ridesharing" to their laws.

Finally, regardless of Uber, there is no technicality that somehow makes obstruction of justice legal in any jurisdiction. And building a piece of software only makes it worse, as it immerses what is a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice across many jurisdictions and involves anyone who built or used it.




Looking at the legal definitions of evasion and obstruction, I don't see anything that applies, especially considering the typical use cases. Obstruction charges usually stem from providing false testimony or evidence, tampering with evidence, or witness tampering.

Evasion - for Portland, they haven't been formally approved from what I read. Doesn't necessarily mean that because they aren't formally approved that the actions are illegal. But I also see that Portland passed a law in Dec 2015 to allow Uber and Lyft on a permanent basis under existing transportation laws that would require them to provide trip data to the city, conduct background checks, etc.

Trying to avoid contact in the course of an investigation or other formal proceedings is generally not illegal. Think about process servers trying to serve papers like subpoena's, decrees, or other court documents on behalf of the state. It's not illegal to avoid those people and try to hide from them. You don't get obstruction or evasion charges even if you are fully aware they are trying to serve you and make efforts to avoid them.


I don't know what you mean by legal definitions of evasion and obstruction. Legal definitions literally vary by jurisdiction, so how one jurisdiction defines a crime is legally different from others...because they pass different laws.

Re Portland: this is factually inaccurate. Uber admitted they used Greyball when they were operating illegally in Portland. Yes, Portland & Uber have since come to an agreement, but not even Uber claims they were operating legally when they used Greyball to evade law enforcement..

Kindly, the challenge with explaining this to non-lawyers is that you do not know what you do not know, but think you do, & use words differently than an officer of a court does.

The example of a process-server is simply not a relevant comparison. Proccess-serving has a lot of TV-created urban legendry around it. Yes, you can try to avoid being served & but, no, you can't ignore a court order or a subpoena by avoiding a process server. If you try to hide, they'll eventually just mail the summons to you.

Regardless, process-serving has nothing to do with what Uber already admitted to doing: building & using software in CA to evade law enforcement in, eg Portland, which is a jurisdictions where they knew they were operating illegally. This is obstruction of justice.


Ah, so Uber was using Greyball in Portland before the agreement was reached? I was not aware of that. It wasn't clear from what I had read. That would definitely make a big difference. If it can be shown that their activity was illegal and was known to be flatly illegal (not just "unapproved" or rubber-stamped by the local government) rather than merely untested in court, then there is a good case to be made for obstruction. I expect a hell of a defense if they actually levy charges, and I am eagerly waiting to see what that defense would be. I find this case very interesting.

Regarding process servers - yes, they will issue a substitute service and then mail it to you, sure. But my point was that you won't be arrested for trying to hide.

I do totally understand the challenge you face as a lawyer talking to a non-lawyer, lol. I thank you for your comments and additional information.


Yes, Uber was using Greyball in cities where it was not operating legally, Portland amongst them.

Uber publicly admitted they built it, that they were still using it, tried to defend its use (for driver safety), and then, a week later, reversed themselves & agreed to stop using it to evade law enforcement, "going forward."

I cannot imagine why Uber chose to admit all that. (Well, other than there were at least 50 people who worked on Greyball & who knows how many more knew, so maybe there was not much choice...lying wasn't going to cut it & lawsuits were already certain) Nonetheless, its a lot of admissions.

Here's the thing: there are legitimate uses for Greyball (driver safety, as they asserted), but evading law enforcement, which they've now admitted, is not one of them--and, as said over and over, is obstruction of justice.

Uber'll undoubtedly try to defend Greyball on this basis (that there are non illegal uses for it--and that was the overwhelming majority of what it was used for)...it wouldn't have worked but, now with their own reversal & public admissions, it'd be hard to even make such an argument)

anyway, here are a few links about Greyball & Portland:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/technology/uber-greyball-...

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/08/uber-halt...


You do not know how to do legal research, which is a large part of why you aren't finding anything.

18 U.S.C. 1001 is a great place to start, but doesn't necessarily tell you what the current interpretation of the law is. To determine what that is, you need to determine which cases are leading and how they were interpreted, then you need to go back and apply it to the facts. This is a weaker offence, but seems more likely to stick if raised.

From there you can move into RICO specific issues at 18 U.S.C. 1961-1968 (emphasis on 1961-1963). From 1961 you can find the offenses that trigger RICO. Check out section 1510 specifically. I think the RICO link here is weak, but I haven't gone through all the case law.

Spoilation is another good jumping-off point for understanding the relevant principles.

The concern with any of these one-off avenues, though, is that they're individually non-comprehensive. Note that the terms in each of these three segments are different despite the fact that they're talking about subtle variations on the same thing.




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