Highlights

  • Company used ‘kill switch’ during raids to stop police seeing data
  • Former Uber CEO told executives ‘violence guarantees success’

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Uber Files: Massive leak reveals how Uber broke laws, lobbied governments

More than 124,000 confidential documents leaked

Thousands of documents revealed, now being called Uber Files show how the taxi sharing giant Uber broke laws, duped law enforcement and secretly lobbied governments.

The leak spans a five-year period when Uber was run by its co-founder Travis Kalanick, who tried to force the cab-hailing service into cities around the world, even if that meant breaching laws and taxi regulations.

The Uber Files, a trove of more than 124,000 records show how the taxi firm's former boss personally ordered the use of a "kill switch" to prevent raiding police from accessing computers.

Uber’s San Francisco-based chief executive, Travis Kalanick, had ordered the computer systems in Amsterdam cut off from Uber’s internal network, making data inaccessible to authorities as they raided its European headquarters, documents show as per reports.

“Please hit the kill switch ASAP,” Kalanick had emailed, ordering a subordinate to block the office laptops and other devices from Uber’s internal systems. “Access must be shut down in AMS,” referring to Amsterdam.

Guardian reports that the leaked files suggest the technique, signed off by Uber’s lawyers, was deployed at least 12 times during raids in India, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and others.

The files, which span 2013 to 2017, includes more than 83,000 emails and frank phone messages between Uber Chief Kalanick and his top team of executives.

In one exchange as per reports, Kalanick dismissed concerns from other executives that sending Uber drivers to a protest in France put them at risk of violence from angry opponents in the taxi industry. “I think it’s worth it,” he shot back. “Violence guarantees success.”

In a statement responding to the leak, Uber admitted to “mistakes and missteps”, but said it had been transformed since 2017 under the leadership of its current chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi.

“We have not and will not make excuses for past behaviour that is clearly not in line with our present values,” it said. “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.”

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