Uber Files: Scandal rocks Uber accused of taking the authorities for a ride

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Gulf Today Report

Uber has been reportedly taking the authorities for a joy ride. That is what appears to be emerging from a stack of confidential files that has revealed dodgy tactics used by the firm to boost its expansion. Branded the Uber Files, the probe by dozens of news organisations showed that the company, in an aggressive bid to conquer new markets, evaded regulatory authorities.

The firm also lobbied for support from top government leaders for its expansion drive. One name, that of Emmanuel Macron, stands out. Macron, who was economy minister from 2014 to 2016 and is now the country’s president, is allegedly an open supporter of Uber.

The British daily the Guardian explored 124,000 documents from 2013-2017 and shared details with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Former chief executive Travis Kalanick was turfed out of office in 2017 following accusations of draconian practices and sexual harassment. The firm’s arrival rattled the transport market, particularly in Europe, affecting the earnings of drivers from rival firms. There were heated demonstrations in Paris in 2016 against Uber’s arrival in the market.

Uber’s rapid expansion leaned on subsidised drivers and discounted fares that undercut the taxi industry, and “often without seeking licences to operate as a taxi and livery service,” reported The Washington Post, one of the media outlets involved in the probe.

According to the Guardian, in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, Uber had been mobilising drivers and telling them to carp to the police when they were victims of violence. During a raid by the authorities, Kalanick implemented a “kill switch” to snap access of devices in an Amsterdam office to Uber’s internal systems. Uber’s actions flouted laws and that executives were aware of them with one joking that they had become “pirates.”

 

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