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Leaked docs reveal how Uber won access to world leaders, deceived investigators

A joint media investigation showed how the ride-sharing app Uber won access to world leaders, deceived investigators and exploited violence against its drivers in the battle for global dominance.

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A joint media investigation showed how the ride-sharing app Uber won access to world leaders, deceived investigators and exploited violence against its drivers in the battle for global dominance.

On Sunday (July 10), an investigative report revealed the previously unknown story of how the tech giant dodged taxes amid chaotic global expansion. 

Led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and The Guardian, ‘The Uber Files‘ project revealed how the company deployed a system of lobbyists to attract prominent world leaders to influence legislation and help it avoid taxes. 

The report highlights the ethically dubious acts, that are potentially illegal, done by the company to fuel its global expansion beginning nearly a decade ago. 

The investigation is based on 124,000 records of sensitive texts, emails, invoices, briefing notes, presentations and other documents exchanged by top Uber executives, government bureaucrats and world leaders in nearly 30 countries. 

The documents found that early in the company’s history, company officials leveraged sometimes violent backlash from the taxi industry against drivers to garner support and evaded regulatory authorities. 

Uber acknowledged ‘mistakes’ 

After the report was published, Uber released a statement on Sunday, acknowledging “mistakes”. However, the company also said that the blame is on previous leadership under former chief executive Travis Kalanick. 

In 2017, Kalanick was forced to resign after revelations accusing him of brutal management practices and multiple episodes of sexual and psychological harassment at the company. 

“We’ve moved from an era of confrontation to one of collaboration, demonstrating a willingness to come to the table and find common ground with former opponents, including labour unions and taxi companies,” it said. 

As per the report, Uber’s subsidised drivers and discounted fares threatened the taxi industry, and the company’s drivers faced violent retaliation, including protests in Paris in 2016. 

The Washington Post was also involved in the probe. It revealed that “In some instances, when drivers were attacked, Uber executives pivoted quickly to capitalize” to seek public and regulatory support as it entered new markets, “often without seeking licenses to operate as a taxi and livery service.” 

As per the Post, Uber is also accused of having worked to evade regulatory investigations by leveraging a technological edge.

The media outlet also described an instance when Kalanick implemented a “kill switch” to remotely cut off access of devices in an Amsterdam office to Uber’s internal systems as regulators raided. 

As per The Washington Post, another finding indicated that between 2014 and 2016 Uber found an ally in France’s then-economy minister Emmanuel Macron, now the country’s president.

The company reportedly believed he would encourage regulators “to be ‘less conservative’ in their interpretation of rules limiting the company’s operations.” 

SourceICIJ
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