Uber Files: Huge leak of confidential documents blasts the murky backdrop of ride-hailing app aggressively expanding into global markets | world news
Uber lobbied officials to drop investigations, deployed a “kill switch” to thwart regulators and law enforcement, and considered using violence against its drivers to garner public sympathy as it aggressively expanded into global markets, he said the analysis of a series of leaked confidential documents.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has combed through more than 124,000 documents – including texts, emails and invoices – to uncover the “ethically questionable practices that have fueled the ridesharing company’s transformation,” according to the Guardian.
The British newspaper first leaked the files and then shared them with the ICIJ, a non-profit global network of investigative reporters.
In a written statement, Uber spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker acknowledged “past mistakes” and said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, hired in 2017, “has been tasked with transforming every aspect of how Uber operates.”
“When we say Uber is a different company today, we mean that literally: 90% of current Uber employees joined after Dara became CEO,” said Ms. Hazelbaker.
Founded in 2009, Uber sought to circumvent taxi regulations and offer low-cost transportation via a ridesharing app, according to the consortium’s report, titled “Uber Files”.
The report reveals the extraordinary effort the company has taken to establish itself in nearly 30 countries and become one of Silicon Valley’s best-known exports.
The company’s lobbyists — including former advisers to President Barack Obama — have tried to persuade government officials to drop their investigations into the company, rewrite labor and taxi laws and relax background checks on drivers, the newspapers show.
The investigation revealed that Uber used “stealth technology” to thwart government investigations.
For example, the company used a “kill switch” that cut access to Uber servers and prevented authorities from collecting evidence during raids in at least six countries.
The Uber Files team reported that former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick personally issued an order during a police raid in Amsterdam: “Please press the kill button as soon as possible… Access must be shut down in AMS (Amsterdam).”
Mr. Kalanick saw the threat of violence against Uber drivers in France by aggrieved taxi drivers as a way to garner public support, the consortium said. “Violence guarantees success,” Kalanick wrote to colleagues.
In response to the inquiry, a spokesman for Mr Kalanick, Devon Spurgeon, said the former CEO “never suggested that Uber should exploit violence at the expense of driver safety”.
The tech giant was also able to shave millions of dollars off its tax bill by sending profits via Bermuda and other tax havens, and then “attempted to divert attention from its tax liabilities by helping authorities collect taxes from its drivers.” collect,” said the reporting team.
Guardian journalists claim that then-French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, now French President, made “extraordinary efforts” to help Uber disrupt France’s closed taxi industry.
In a statement, the Élysée said that Mr Macron’s ministerial duties at the time “naturally meant that he met and interacted with many companies involved in the strong transformation that was taking place in the service sector in those years”.