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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The U.S. Department of Justice has begun a criminal investigation into Uber’s use of a software tool that helped its drivers evade local transportation regulators.

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Sources tell Reuters Uber has acknowledged the software, known as “Greyball,” helped it identify and circumvent government officials who were trying to clamp down on Uber in areas where its service had not yet been approved.

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The company prohibited the use of Greyball for this purpose shortly after the New York Times revealed its existence in March, saying the program was created to check ride requests to prevent fraud and safeguard drivers.

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Uber and the Justice Department declined to comment on the report. The nature of any potential federal criminal violation, and the likelihood of anyone being charged, is unclear. Sources tell Reuters the investigation is still in its early stages.