Uber files show efforts to evade scrutiny: report

(Washington) — As Uber has aggressively penetrated markets around the world, the ride-sharing service has lobbied political leaders to loosen labor and taxi laws, used a “lock key” to thwart regulators and law enforcement, funneled money through Bermuda and other tax havens and was seen as portraying violence against its drivers. a way to win the sympathy of the public, According to a report released Sunday.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a nonprofit network of investigative reporters, scanned Uber’s internal texts, emails, invoices and other documents to provide what it called “an unprecedented look at the ways Uber has defied taxi laws and upended workers’ rights.”

The documents were Leaked for the first time to the British newspaper The Guardian, which I shared with the consortium.

In a written statement, Uber spokeswoman Jill Hazelbecker acknowledged there had been “mistakes” in the past and said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who was appointed in 2017, “has been tasked with transforming every aspect of how Uber operates…when we say Uber is a different company today, we mean it.” Literally: 90% of current Uber employees joined after Dara became CEO.”

Uber, which was founded in 2009, has sought to bypass taxi regulations and offer cheap transportation via the ride-sharing app. The consortium’s Uber filings reveal the extraordinary lengths the company has pledged to establish itself in nearly 30 countries.

And newspapers showed that the company’s lobbyists — including former aides to President Barack Obama — pressured government officials to drop their investigations, rewrite labor and taxi laws, and relax drivers’ background checks.

The investigation found that Uber used “stealth technology” to fend off government investigations. For example, the company used a “lock switch” that cuts off access to Uber’s servers and prevents authorities from obtaining evidence during raids in at least six countries. Uber files report that during a police raid in Amsterdam, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick issued a personal order: “Please press the lock switch ASAP…Access must be closed at AMS (Amsterdam)”.

The consortium also reported that Kalanick saw the threat of violence against Uber drivers in France by affected taxi drivers as a way to gain public support. Kalanick texted his colleagues in a text message: “Violence guarantees success.”

In response to the consortium, Kalanick’s spokesman, Devon Spurgeon, said the former CEO “never suggested that Uber should exploit violence at the expense of driver safety”.

Uber files say the company reduced its tax bill by millions of dollars by sending profits through Bermuda and other tax havens, and then “sought to distract from its tax obligations by helping authorities collect taxes from its drivers.”

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