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Officials want to eye Uber's possible use

PORTLAND — Officials in Portland called for an investigation into whether Uber used software to identify and reject hails from city code enforcers.

The investigation could make public more details of Uber's anti-regulation tactics as the company asks the state Legislature to legalize its business model statewide, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Uber delayed its official launch in the city until Portland ironed out a pilot program to allow for its business model. It launched with the city approval in 2015.

An Uber spokesman said Friday that the company has not used the software in Portland since then.

The investigation will focus on whether Uber has used the Greyball software — or any form of it — to obstruct the city's enforcement of its regulations.

The review would examine information the companies have already provided the city and potentially seek additional data.

"We're not going after them for what happened in 2014, but if there's been any similar events in the intervening time, then we would go after them for that, as well as seek assurance that it will not happen again," Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman said.

The investigation also will affect Uber's biggest competitor, Lyft, Saltzman said, though Lyft did not operate in Portland until its business model was approved, and there's no indication that it screened regulators.

Commissioner Nick Fish earlier called for a broader investigation and said the City Council should seek subpoena powers to determine the extent of Greyball usage.

"I've been on the council for eight years, and this is the most serious breach of trust that I have observed in an industry that we regulate," Fish said. "This is an attack on our ability as a local community to enforce community standards."

Mayor Ted Wheeler said he supported the investigation.

Oregon lawmakers have filed a measure that seeks to put companies like Uber and Lyft under state oversight and override the regulatory frameworks set up in Portland and elsewhere.