A massive leak of documents reveals how Uber secretly lobbied governments during its efforts for global expansion.
Over 124,000 documents spanning from 2013 to 2017 — known as the Uber Files — leaked to The Guardian and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media outlets exposed how the taxi firm recruited help from politicians as part of its expansion tactics.
The documents showed how then-European Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes was in talks to join the Uber advisory board before her term ended and that she called the government during a police raid on Uber’s Amsterdam office.
The documents further revealed that then-French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron told Uber he had brokered a secret “deal” with opponents in the French cabinet to help the company.
One document suggested that Uber planned to spend $90 million in 2016 on its lobbying and public relations.
The documents indicate that Uber also offered prized financial stakes to powerful figures in Russia, Italy, and Germany and paid thousands of dollars to prominent academics to produce research that supported the company in an attempt to shape policy debates.
The documents also revealed that Uber had a “kill switch” to prevent law enforcement authorities from accessing its computers.
Devon Spurgeon, a spokesperson for Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, said, “Any accusation that Mr. Kalanick directed, engaged in, or was involved in any of these activities is completely false.”
In a separate statement, Uber Senior Vice President of Marketing and Public Affairs Jill Hazelbaker said, “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.”
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