According to more than 124,000 confidential documents leaked to The Guardian – known as the Uber files – tech giant Uber broke the law, tricked law enforcement, secretly lobbied governments around the world and even put its drivers in danger for the sake of its own corporate growth.
The files reveal a lot, and it’s worth checking out the full report, but here are some of the wildest things that the investigation shows:
- Uber executives met with and secretly lobbied now US President Joe Biden, now French President Emmanuel Macron, former Irish PM Enda Kenny, former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and former UK Chancellor George Osborne.
- Uber frequently broke laws and regulations to get the platform into cities around the world, which often led to backlash from local cab industries.
- Uber’s CEO at the time, Travis Kalanick, was in favor of sending Uber drivers to counterprotest taxi driver demonstrations despite the risk of violence, saying that “violence guarantee[s] success.”
- Those same executives acknowledged that they were doing illegal things, with one executive calling themselves “pirates.”
The files span from 2013 to 2017, and the company says they don’t represent where Uber is now.
“We’re just fucking illegal,” said one executive in the leaked messages, indicating that the executives knew fully what they were doing was illegal.
Responding to reports that Travis Kalanick had encouraged Uber drivers to attend counterprotests of demonstrations by taxi drivers in Paris, a spokesperson for Kalanick said he “never suggested that Uber should take advantage of violence at the expense of driver safety,” and that the suggestion he was involved in that was “completely false.”
“We have not and will not make excuses for past behaviour that is clearly not in line with our present values,” read a statement released by Uber responding to the leak. “Instead, we ask the public to judge us by what we’ve done over the last five years and what we will do in the years to come.”