‘Uber files’: Massive secret document leak blows up the murky background of the ride-hailing app | World News

According to an analysis of a series of leaked classified documents, Uber lobbied officials to drop investigations, use a ‘kill switch’ to thwart law enforcement and look into abuse. violence against its drivers to win public sympathy as they aggressively expand into the global market.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) searched more than 124,000 documents – including texts, emails and invoices – to expose “the ethically questionable practices that fueled the transformation”. of the ride-hailing company”, according to the Guardian.

The British newspaper first leaked the files and went on to share them with ICIJ, a non-profit global network of investigative reporters.

In a written statement, Uber Spokesperson Jill Hazelbaker acknowledged “mistakes” in the past and said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, hired in 2017, had “been tasked with changing every aspect of the way Uber operates”.

“When we say Uber is a different company today, we mean it literally: 90% of current Uber employees joined after Dara became CEO,” said Hazelbaker. speak.

Founded in 2009, Uber sought to circumvent taxi regulations and offer inexpensive transportation through its ride-sharing app, according to a consortium report dubbed “Uber Files.”

The report shows the extraordinary lengths it took the company to establish itself in nearly 30 countries, becoming one of Silicon Valley’s most familiar exports.

The company’s lobbyists – including a former aide to President Barack Obama – have sought to persuade government officials to drop the investigation of the company, rewrite labor and taxi laws as well as relaxed background checks on drivers, reports show.

‘Kill switch’ cuts off access to Uber servers

The investigation found that Uber used “stealth technology” to fend off government investigations.

For example, the company used a “kill switch” to cut off access to Uber’s servers and block authorities from collecting evidence during raids in at least six countries.

The Uber Files team reported that during a police raid in Amsterdam, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick personally ordered: “Press the kill switch ASAP… Access must be disabled. off at AMS (Amsterdam). ”

An Uber sign is displayed inside a car in Palatine, Ill., Thursday, February 10, 2022.
Photo: AP

Mr. Kalanick sees threats of violence against Uber drivers in France by harmed taxi drivers as a way to win public support, according to the group. Mr. Kalanick messaged his colleagues: “Make sure the violence(s) succeed.

Company cuts tax bills by sending profits through tax havens

In response to the investigation, Kalanick’s spokesman, Devon Spurgeon, said the former CEO “never suggested that Uber should use violence at the expense of driver safety”.

The tech giant could also cut millions of dollars of its taxes by sending profits through Bermuda and other tax havens, the team said, then “seeking to deflect attention away from the public eye.” its tax obligations by helping the authorities collect taxes from motorists”.

French President Emmanuel Macron sends New Year's message to the Queen
The leak reveals the relationship between Emmanuel Macron and the ride-hailing company

Guardian journalists claim then-French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, now President of France, went “an unusually long” to help Uber disrupt France’s shuttered taxi industry.

In a statement, Élysée said Mr Macron’s ministerial duties at the time “naturally brought him to meet and interact with many companies involved in the dramatic change that took place during those years in the sector”. service sector”.

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