Leaked Uber Files Reveal Illegal Activities at the Company Over the Past Years

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Travis Kalanick Co-founder of Uber. Image sourced from icij.org

Thousands of files dubbed Uber Files have been shared with a whole lot of media outlets detailing how the company broke some laws to be the global ride-hailing giant that it is today. The leak consists of over 124,000 documents outlining activity from 2013 until 2017.

In response to the leaked documents, Uber released a statement in which it said after 2017 it hired CEO Dara Khosrowshahi who was tasked to transform how the company operates.

According to The Guardian, one of the publications that received the leaked documents, the data shows how the company tried to shore up support by discreetly courting prime ministers, presidents, billionaires, oligarchs, and media barons.

Leaked message exchanges also reveal that the executives were completely aware that they were breaking laws. One executive joked that they had become “pirates” and another responded: “We’re fucking illegal.”

The messages which include 83,000 emails, iMessages and WhatsApp messages also reveal confident conversations between executives and Travis Kalanick, co-founder of the company who ran the company at the time. Kalanick and his team reportedly exploited violence against drivers — allegedly sent Uber drivers to a protest in France, which put them at risk of violence from opponents in the taxi industry. “Violence guarantees success,” one message read.

As per The Guardian, Kalanick’s spokesperson dismissed the claims, saying: “he never suggested that Uber should take advantage of violence at the expense of driver safety.”

“Government regulators were aware of the harassment and assaults of Uber drivers at the hands of drivers,” the spokesperson said in a statement.  

Other texts include conversations between Kalanick and Emmanuel Macron, who secretly helped the company in France when he was the economy minister. Kalanick had direct access to Macron, as well as his team.

Uber executives also privately expressed clear disdain for other elected officials who did not like how they operated or subscribed to their business model. German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who was a mayor of Hamburg at the time pushed back Uber lobbyists and insisted on paying drivers minimum wage. One executive told another colleague that Scholz was “a real comedian”.

The leaked documents reveal how Uber took unofficial routes to power, applying influence through friends and seeking out encounters with politicians and governments to rewrite laws in its favour.

Uber is currently one of the most used ride-hailing platforms, with over 100 million subscribers globally and a presence in approximately 80 countries.


By Zintle Nkohla 

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