Over 120,000 leaked documents show how Uber globally spread ‘f*cking illegal’ ride-share company

Uber revolutionized the way people get from Point A to Point B, but its quest for international domination did not come without pushback from established players in the industry.

Thousands of files leaked by former lobbyist Mark MacGann reveal that Uber employed some rather dubious tactics while convincing lawmakers to side with them during the company’s push to go global.

The so-called “Uber Files” have been widely shared since MacGann went public as a whistleblower.

As the Washington Post reports, contained within the more than 124,000 documents are messages sent to politicians and lobbyists by top executives, including Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick, as well as internal company communications from 2013 to 2017.

Many of the documents highlight the fact that Uber knew it faced an uphill battle to gain legitimacy in certain places.

In response to governments in Thailand and India trying to shut them down, for example, Uber’s then head of global communications Nairi Hourdajian said simply, “We’re just f*cking illegal.”

Text messages reveal that Kalanick went to extreme measures to garner support for his company, at one point even leveraging violent attacks against its drivers to convince politicians.

“I think it’s worth it,” Kalanick said, suggesting that “violence guarantees success.”

After winning over US consumers with their low fares, Uber sought expansion into foreign markets, namely Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Standing in their way, however, were strict regulations governing public transportation, and taxi industries that did not want to lose their hegemony.

Despite these hurdles, Uber went ahead and opened shop in European markets, regardless of whether or not it had been given the green light to do so.

In some cases, Uber employed the use of a “kill switch,” which would, according to documents analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, “cut access to company servers and prevent authorities from seizing evidence during raids on Uber offices in at least six countries.”

Documents reveal that upon receiving backlash from the taxi industry in France, Uber enlisted the help of then minister of the economy, and current president Emmanuel Macron.

Uber executives also met with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. A meeting was also set up with then vice-president Joe Biden at the World Economic Forum in 2016.

In all, Uber contacted nearly 2,000 “stakeholders” including current and former public officials, think tanks, and citizens groups in the EU and twenty-nine other nations on other continents.

In a statement released on Sunday, Uber addressed the controversy.

“There has been no shortage of reporting on Uber’s mistakes prior to 2017,” the company wrote.

“Uber is now one of the largest platforms for work in the world and an integral part of everyday life for over 100 million people. We’ve moved from an era of confrontation to one of collaboration, demonstrating a willingness to come to the table and find common ground with former opponents, including labor unions and taxi companies.:

They pointed out that the company is “now regulated in more than 10,000 cities around the world, working at all levels of government to improve the lives of those using our platform and the cities we serve.”

“We have not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly not in line with our present values,” the statement concluded. “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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