Uber, the ride-sharing agency, has lobbied politicians to relax labor and taxi laws, duped police and exploited violence against drivers to gain public sympathy so they could expand globally from 2013 to 2017, it reported. The Guardian Sunday based on leaked confidential files .
More than 124,000 leaked documents — now known as the Uber files — expose the company’s unethical practices between 2013 and 2017, which were first leaked to the guard which she later shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a non-profit network of investigative journalists.
It covers Uber’s operations in 40 countries when it was run by co-founder, Travis Kalanick, who made aggressive efforts to force taxi service into cities around the world, even if it meant violating local laws and taxi regulations. .
According to the guardThe leak also shows “how Uber tried to gain support by discreetly courting prime ministers, presidents, billionaires, oligarchs and media barons.” In addition to memos, presentations, notebooks and other revealing documents, the leak also includes “emails, iMessages and WhatsApp exchanges between the Silicon Valley giant’s top executives.”
In one exchange, the Uber files show that Kalanick dismissed concerns from other executives that sending Uber drivers to a protest in France would put them at risk of violence from angry opponents in the taxi industry. “I think it’s worth it. Violence guarantee[s] success,” he said.
In a statement, Kalanick’s spokesperson denied the ICIJ’s allegations, saying that Mr. Kalanick has never authorized or directs illegal conduct in Uber’s expansion efforts in Russia, and was in fact very limited in those expansion plans. And Mr. Kalanick has never suggested that Uber should use force at the expense of driver safety… By pushing its false agenda that Mr. Kalanick sent illegal or inappropriate behavior, the ICIJ claims to have documents of which Mr. Kalanick was part or even the author, some of which are nearly ten years old.”
Emmanuel MacronThe Role of Uber Global Push
The leaked documents reveal Uber’s $90 million-a-year lobbying and public relations campaigns to gain the support of Emmanuel Macron, then France’s economy minister, to disrupt Europe’s taxi industry.
There were a total of four meetings between Kalanick and Macron, and a secret “deal” was struck between Uber executives and French politicians, the text messages revealed.
Macron would encourage regulators “to be ‘less conservative’ in their interpretation of rules restricting the company’s activities”. The now French president appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to help Uber and is now an open supporter of the ride-sharing service company.
In addition to French Macron, Uber executives also met with then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and then-Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, among other world leaders.
Uber’s ‘Kill’ switch’, Stealth Tech Use
The investigation of Uber’s files also revealed the company’s use of “stealth technology” to thwart government investigations and cut its tax bill by millions of dollars by sending profits through Bermuda and other tax havens.
For example, Uber executives used a so-called “kill switch” that cut off access to the company’s key data systems, allowing authorities to seize evidence during office raids in at least six countries.
One such case was during a raid by authorities on Uber’s Amsterdam office, when Kalanick implemented a “kill switch” to remotely cut off devices access to Uber’s internal systems.
“Please hit the kill switch as soon as possible,” Kalanick ordered. “Access must be closed in AMS [Amsterdam]†
The leaked files suggest that the “kill-switch” technique, signed by Uber’s lawyers, was deployed at least 12 times during raids in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, India, Hungary and Romania.
Uber’s response to leaked files
In a statement responding to the leak, Jill Hazelbaker, Uber’s senior vice president of public affairs, acknowledged that he had made “mistakes and missteps” in the past and said it had transformed since 2017 under the leadership of its current CEO. Dara Khosrowshahi.
“Before 2017, there was no shortage of reporting on Uber’s mistakes. Thousands of stories have been published, several books have been written – there has even been a TV series. We have and will not apologize for past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our current values. Instead, we’re asking the public to judge us on what we’ve done in the past five years and what we’ll be doing in the coming years,” Hazelbaker said.
Khosrowshahi had been tasked with transforming every aspect of Uber’s operation. When we say Uber is a different company today, we mean it literally: 90% of current Uber employees joined after Dara became CEO,” he continued.