Uber allegedly cheated and ‘lobbying’ to expand: ‘we’re damn illegal’

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An investigation by the International Consortium of Journalists based on internal leaks says the company took advantage of the conflict with taxi drivers to extract concessions from authorities and sought “chaos” in the cities

The Uber empire is again being questioned, this time very seriously because, according to internal leaks from the company, it has allegedly broken numerous laws and pressured the political authorities of the countries where it operates to receive privileges with relating to other types of public transport services, such as taxi drivers. A study conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists concludes that this multinational of American origin has managed to penetrate major cities around the world thanks to a strategy that would deliberately violate the regulations in force in those areas, mislead and ‘lobby ‘ in the highest realms.

The more than 124,000 documents that make up what’s called “Uber Files” expose the ethically questionable practices of the company, then headed by Travis Kalanick, the company’s co-founder and who has performed executive duties for several digital companies. The methods of this group, which initially tried to pose as a service of the sharing economy when in reality was just another transportation company competing with the rest of the operators in this industry, included courting prime ministers, presidents, billionaires, oligarchs and media moguls.

The leaked documents are dated between 2013 and 2017 – although industry sources claim that some of these practices could have been allegedly enforced despite the documents covering no more than the stated time period – and contain communications from Kalanick himself with his executives. . One of them admits that those responsible for Uber are behaving like “pirates” and in another internal note he admits directly that “we are just fucking illegal,” according to Europa Press.

There are 40 countries where Uber currently operates have been affected by the documents collected by the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’, which has shared them with 180 journalists from 29 countries. In response to your information, they told Uber that “we have not apologized and will not apologize for past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our current values.” “We ask that they assess us for what we have done in the past five years and for what we will do in the coming years,” he emphasized.

Kalanick himself, in one of the communications with his executives, rejects the reluctance to send drivers to a demonstration of taxi drivers, despite the obvious risk of clashes between the two sides. “I think it’s worth it. Violence guarantees success,” he said. However, a spokesperson for the businessman has argued that “he never suggested that Uber should abuse violence at the expense of drivers’ safety”.

The leaked documents also include a conversation between Kalanick and current French President Emmanuel Macron, then the French government’s economy minister, revealing that he secretly helped the multinational enter the country by facilitating it to secure privileged access. to get to senior officials. Macron even mentions that the company had a secret “agreement” with its rivals within the Executive.

By contrast, other politicians who were not as responsive were clearly despised by Uber executives, according to that internal communication. For example, the current German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, demanded a pay rise for Uber drivers when he was mayor of Hamburg. “He’s a real clown,” the company’s leaders said.

Until now, US President Joe Biden has been despised by Kalanick, who said of a planned meeting between the two at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “I’ve told my people to tell him that every minute he’s late is a minute, unless he will be with me.” Biden was Barack Obama’s vice president at the time and one of the staunchest supporters of this transportation company and its international expansion.

Uber’s business model has been to “throw” the prices of its services to win over customers, despite the fact that this was economically unsustainable, as such a strategy allowed them to dominate the market in cities around the world, from Moscow to Johannesburg, and put pressure on the authorities to expand the use of their application. In many cities they were successful, although in others their penetration was not as wide and then the offensive was doubled. “It’s a normal part of Uber’s business (…). Embrace the chaos. You’re doing something important,” Kalanick argued about his entry into India.

In countries like Belgium, Spain, Italy or France, the conflict even reached the streets with serious protests from taxi drivers. In Paris, for example, the company encouraged Uber drivers to participate in counter-demonstrations and civil disobedience actions. When Kalanick was warned of the risk of a response from suspected “far-right thugs” and that he was “fueling a fight”, he said “it’s worth it”. “Violence guarantees success and you have to face these guys, right?” This strategy is in line with the proposal of another document proposing to “use drivers as weapons” and take advantage of the violence they would undergo “to fuel the fires of controversy”.

This all responded to a script that, according to leaked emails, was used in Italy, Belgium, Spain or Switzerland, among others. An example was when several hooded men, believed to be taxi drivers although they could not be identified as such, attacked Uber drivers with hammers in Amsterdam in 2015, the company received concessions from authorities.

That’s why the Uber controls encouraged their drivers to report any type of incident to the police, even if they weren’t clear about its origin or authorship. Tomorrow they will be on the front page. We will continue the discourse of violence for a few more days and then we will come to the ‘solution’ against the taxi ‘cartel’, says one of the internal texts. However, they also acknowledged that they themselves would fall outside the current regulations. »We are not legal in many countries. We must avoid making controversial statements,” one manager acknowledged. “We’ve officially become pirates,” said another.

Source: La Verdad

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