Big Tech Common Dreams Corporate Greed Investigation

‘The Uber Files’: 124,000+ Leaked Files Expose Global Dirty Dealings of Ride-Hailing Giants

Internal documents reveal how company "won access to world leaders, cozied up to oligarchs and dodged taxes amid chaotic global expansion."
Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Scalable Grid Engine, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Common Dreams Staff / Common Dreams

Over 124,000 internal corporate files and documents, including private communications between top executives, are the basis of new reporting published Sunday dubbed “The Uber Files“—a detailed look at the ride-hailing juggernaut that aggressively lobbied governments around the world to ease regulations and pass legislation friendly to the company’s bottom line but often harmful to traditional taxi rivals and its own drivers.

First obtained by The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. and subsequently shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the trove of documents offers a damning picture of the U.S.-based tech company that revolutionized ride-hailing with a smartphone app that allowed independent drivers to become instant taxi cab drivers.

According to the ICIJ:

As it grew from scrappy Silicon Valley startup to a world-conquering multi-billion dollar operation, Uber promoted itself as a leader of the digital revolution.

But the tech company pushed its agenda the old-fashioned way. Uber’s scandals and missteps in the United States, from its spying on government officials to its leaks of executive misconduct, have been the subject of books, TV series and newspaper investigations.

Now, a new leak of records reveal the inside story of how the ride-hailing giant’s executives muscled into new markets, then managed the fallout, spending gobs of cash on a global influence machine deployed to win favors from politicians, regulators and other leaders, who were often eager to lend a hand.

The Guardian reports how the extensive leak of data “lays bare the ethically questionable practices that fueled the company’s transformation into one of Silicon Valley’s most famous exports.”

The newspaper says the files cover the “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.”

Episodes detailed in the reporting include ruthless behavior of Kalanick who appeared less concerned with the well-being of Uber drivers than securing the company’s ability to operate in new cities or countries.

Gig Workers Rising, a collective of workers operating in the gig economy, said the leak shows how ruthless Uber was with Kalanick at the helm, but that the company continues to mistreat its drivers:

Responding to the first batch of reporting on the files—with much more expected in the coming days—Sandeep Vaheesan, legal director of the Open Markets Institute, a think tank focused on corporate power and monopolies, called it a “damning report on Uber’s predatory methods of competition and growth, which antitrust enforcers here and abroad unfortunately aided and abetted because ‘innovation.'”

Common Dreams Staff
Common Dreams Staff

Common Dreams staff

3 comments

  1. Uber was never intended to be profitable. It is a subsidized tool of some powerful multinational interests, to break up local transport systems. It was able to get away with all this because it has been powerfully protected.

    It seems to be starting to lose some of its clout now, as the powers which created and protected it are starting to fail. We need taxis back again, and we need to start building serious transit systems.

  2. Oh, the Uber files. Gig work USA. ER doctors getting barely above minimum wage and also gig workers. You’ve heard about profits ‘r us charter schools, well look up Charter Cities. This is the Uberization and Charterization of the world. We all will be clamoring refugees in permanent lockdown while the one Percent and their 19 Percenters (Eichmanns) carry out their pogroms.

  3. Oh, how awful. Except for the spying on government officials. That should be encouraged everywhere.

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