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Source: Sputnik News

Uber Files: Ride-hailing service lobbied government for aggressive global expansion
Reportedly, there were more than 100 meetings between Uber executives and public officials from 2014 to 2016

Image depicting Uber Files
Uber Files: Ride-hailing service lobbied government for aggressive global expansion Source: DW

A range of more than 100,000 leaked documents has reportedly disclosed how Uber used its secret relationship with top European politicians for its global expansion. These secret relationships include with that of French president Emmanuel Macron at the time when he was serving as France’s economy minister.

The leaked documents labeled as ‘Uber Files’ was shared with the ICIJ- International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. These essentially include presentations, emails, memos, iMessages, notebooks, along with WhatsApp exchanges between the most senior executives of the company. It comprised more than 124,000 internal documents from 2013 and 2017. These indicated how Uber tried to secretly acquire support from Europe top politicians, like billionaires, oligarchs, prime ministers and media barons.

One portion of this investigates centres around conversations of Mr. Macron with Uber executives during his tenure as economy minister. BBC News reported regarding the fact he was reportedly on ‘first name’ basis with Travis Kalanick, the controversial Uber boss. At this time, some cab drivers in the country sometimes staged violent protests against Uber. Moreover, certain executives of the company were seeking to turn the violent protests to their benefit.

“Violence guarantee(s) success,” Mr Kalanick had reportedly messaged other leaders in Uber. He added that the risk to drivers’ safety during such protests was “worth it”.

Reportedly, even Neelie Kroes, the former European Union digital commissioner and one of the top officials of Brussels, was involved in this. Turns out, she was in talks to join the ride-hailing giant prior to the end of her term, then secretly lobbying for Uber. The firm, along with an advisory firm reportedly even compiled lists of more than 1,850 ‘stakeholders.’ This included former and sitting public officials, citizen groups and think tanks, which it aimed to influence in the EU and 29 countries.

There were apparently more than 100 meetings among the company executives and public officials between 2014 and 2016. The documents show how Uber also made use of ‘stealth technology’ for fending off investigations. The report from ICIJ says how it used a ‘kill switch’ to blocking access to Uber servers, and prevented authorities from gathering proof during raids in some countries.

In reaction to this, Uber stated how it had ‘moved’ from a time of ‘confrontation’ to that of ‘collaboration.’ This was following Dara Khosrowshahi taking over as Uber’s chief after Kalanick resigned in the year 2017.

“We have not and will not make excuses for past behavior that is clearly not in line with our present values. 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,” Jill Hazelbaker, senior vice president of marketing and public affairs at Uber, said in a statement.