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Uber is reportedly being investigated by the Justice Department

The U.S. Department of Justice is in the early stages of investigating Uber and the company's use of secret software that drivers used to detect authorities in areas where the ride-hailing service was not authorized to operate, people with knowledge of the inquiry told Reuters Thursday.

In March, The New York Times reported that Uber used software, dubbed "Greyball," in areas where they were either banned or restricted, like Portland, Oregon; last week, transportation officials in Portland reported that the software allowed Uber drivers to evade 16 Portland Bureau of Transportation officials in December 2014. The company said Greyball was used at the time because the company was "deeply concerned that its driver-partners would be penalized financially" for their unauthorized driving. An Uber spokesman and the Justice Department would not comment to Reuters.