A wealth of internal Uber documents leaked to the guard and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), as well as dozens of other news outlets, outlines its strategies for global expansion — even if the company had to bend some rules. The leak, collectively called the Uber Files, consists of more than 124,000 documents spanning the period between 2013 and 2017.
Uber has since responded to the leak in a post on its website, saying it “moved from an era of confrontation to an era of collaboration” after CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took over after founder Travis Kalanick’s resignation in 2017.
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.”
An article by The Washington Post reveals Uber’s alleged use of a “kill switch” to shut down the company’s computer systems “to prevent authorities from successfully investigating the company’s business practices for disrupting the global taxi industry,” while another describes how the company “used violent attacks” on drivers to further flesh out its agenda. The report includes quotes from a “Dawn Raid Manual” the company has compiled, which includes a bullet point stating that “regulators should never be left alone.”
A BBC report focuses on French President Emmanuel Macron telling the Uber CEO he could reform laws in favor of the company. It also shows how ex-EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes negotiated to join the advisory board before leaving her last European position and informally lobbied on behalf of the company during a “cooling off period” before joining.
When Uber started offering its ride-sharing services around the world, the guard reports that executives were “under no illusions about breaking the law, with one executive joking that they had become ‘pirates'”. having trouble because, well, we’re just fucking illegal.”
“We have and will not apologize for past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our current values,” Jill Hazelbaker, SVP of marketing and public affairs at Uber, wrote in Uber’s response. “Instead, we’re asking the public to rate us on what we’ve done in the past five years and what we’ll be doing in the coming years.”
A spokesperson for Travis Kalanick, Devon Spurgeon, delivered a long string of denials published by the ICIJ, saying, “Mr. Kalanick has never authorized or directed any illegal conduct in Uber’s expansion efforts in Russia, and was in fact very limited in that. And Mr. Kalanick has never suggested that Uber should abuse violence to the detriment of driver safety… By pushing its false agenda that Mr. Kalanick sent illegal or inappropriate behavior, the ICIJ alleges documents to have Mr. Kalanick on or even author, some of which are nearly ten years old.”