Uber Leak reportedly reveals battles with governments, taxi companies and labor laws

Uber has used deceptive and allegedly illegal methods during its “aggressive global expansion”, according to a massive leak of internal files and messages reported in The Guardian on Sunday.

The ride-sharing company allegedly “flouted laws, deceived police, exploited violence against drivers and covertly lobbied governments”, while under co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick.

The Guardian has obtained more than 124,000 documents, including emails, WhatsApp messages, briefing papers and invoices that span from 2013 to 2017. The documents, dubbed the Uber Files, cover the activities of the company in more than 40 countries, according to The Guardian.

The leak was shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, as well as other publications such as Le Monde, the Washington Post and the BBC. CNET has not independently verified the leaked documents.

Among the revelations of the Guardian report, French President Emmanuel Macron, then Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital, allegedly supported Kalanick when thousands of taxi drivers demonstrated against Uber in France in 2015.

Kalanick reportedly dismissed executives’ concerns that sending Uber drivers to protests in France could put them at risk of violence. “I think it’s worth it,” he reportedly said. “Guarantee violence[s] Hit.”

Kalanick left Uber in 2017, following a wave of scandals. He was replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia, who began his tenure with an apology for the company’s past conduct and an attempt to reform its “toxic” corporate culture.

The leaks also detail Uber’s efforts to pressure government officials during its expansion, including then-Vice President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was then mayor of Hamburg. These included attempts to change labor laws

“We have not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly inconsistent with our current values,” Uber wrote in its response to the report, posted on its website. “Instead, we’re asking the public to judge us on what we’ve done over the past five years and what we’ll do in the years to come.”

The Guardian also published a lengthy statement from Kalanick’s spokesperson in response to the leak.

“Any accusation that Mr. Kalanick directed, initiated or implicated” illegal or improper conduct is “completely false,” the statement read. “The reality was that Uber’s expansion initiatives were led by more than a hundred executives in dozens of countries around the world and at all times under the direct supervision and with the full approval of the strong legal groups, Uber’s policies and compliance.”

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