Saturday, May 13, 2017

Uber's Greyball program did nothing wrong.

I recently posted the below opinion on Reddit's "Change My View" subreddit, which is a place for people to debate controversial opinions they have.  It got over 100 responses, so you can read the ensuing conversation here.  I don't have time to copy and paste all of them, so for now I'll just post my opening argument:

The front page of reddit is telling me Uber faces criminal scrutiny and public backlash for it's Greyball program. So far as I understand it, the program was designed to circumvent regulations aimed at restricting or banning Uber in some locations, by detecting undercover law enforcement trying to entrap Uber and thwarting their efforts to hail a cab with phantom car icons, etc.

In my opinion, though, all of the regulations and restrictions local governments were attempting to emplace on Uber were bullshit. The government has no business banning or regulating any peaceful and voluntary agreements between drivers and passengers, and most of the regulations were corrupt protectionism for entrenched industry interests and massive cab companies in bed with the local government. Offering people cheap and convenient cab rides in defiance of law is the very definition of a victimless crime.

Accordingly, my view is that if private individuals and organizations are engaged in victimless crimes that aren't violating anybody else's rights, they are perfectly justified in attempting to fool, avoid, ignore, outsmart, conceal from, or otherwise circumvent those enforcing the laws which render their conduct criminal. This applies to smoking or sellng pot, it applies to jaywalking when there are no cars around, it appies to smuggling Kinder chocolate eggs into the United States from Germany - and it applies to Uber's Greyball program.

You can change my view by convinving me one of two things:

a) the regulations Uber was evading were legitimate and important protections of people's rights (aka, that Uber was engaged in something more sinister than victimless crimes), or

b) that even when the law strikes us as dumb and corrupt, we have an obligation to follow it and/or to at least not decieve those attempting to enforce it.

No comments:

Post a Comment