The renowned American company UBER has been known for its hassle-free services, allowing users to book a car and driver to transport them in a way similar to a taxi. The business has been successful over the last few years and has been doing roaring trade and employment generation, like no other taxi service in the world.
For years, UBER kept its nose clean. There were rarely any reports of scams or any mischief by the company. But, now it’s completely exposed to the world that ‘UBER is no different from the rest of the multinational firms. This is a really big claim, but UBER now stands completely exposed to the world.
The Uber files, a cache of thousands of confidential documents have revealed dirty secrets about the company. There were lucrative deals with several leading nations including European nations, who were paid to promote UBER and ignore its mischief.
The Dirty Business of UBER
The recently leaked UBER files contain over 124,000 confidential documents, including over 83,000 emails, iMessages, and WhatsApp messages of top UBER executives. These documents have raised questions about the company’s strategies during its aggressive global expansion.
But most prominently, the files focussed on the tactics used during the five-year reign of the company’s co-founder, Travis Kalanick.
According to The Guardian, the leaked files include some “frank and candid” exchanges between Kalanick and top Uber executives. The documents revealed that the company’s executives were very well aware of the illegality of their conduct.
UBER also had a very famous weapon to prevent itself from getting caught red-handed. This mechanism was known to just one authority in the world i.e. the European Union(EU). This technology is termed ‘Kill Switch’.
The ‘Kill Switch’ Tactic and the EU’s participation
Firstly, thanks to The Guardian for citing documents leaked by Mark MacGann, Uber’s former chief lobbyist in Europe.
For years, UBER had used the ‘Kill Switch’ tactic to side away from ongoing controversies. The top Uber executives had instructed its employees to use a “kill switch” to prevent authorities from accessing potential confidential and secretive data of UBER.
UBER had used ‘Kill Switch’ in midst of raids by police and officials, who were gathering evidence that could be used to shut down Uber’s unlicensed taxi service, impound vehicles or prosecute drivers.
You see, the kill switch is used to block access to the company’s servers. Moreover, this tech has been deployed several times in at least six countries, namely France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, India, and Romania, leading authorities to shamble for gathering crucial information that could have been used to regulate the company’s operations and prosecute drivers.
Now, here comes an interesting revelation—the European Nations were totally aware of the ‘Kill Switch’ and they let it happen under the sleeves.
The leaked files suggest that former EU Vice-President Neelie Kroes secretly helped Uber lobby with the Netherlands Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, and a string of other national Dutch politicians. This helped UBER to ditch away from major scandals and raids inside the Netherlands.
Not only this, the Kill Switch technology has been tremendously used in other European nations as well. The leaked files show that Uber deployed its ‘kill switch’ at least 12 times in France. The earliest mention of the kill switch comes from two raids in France back in 2014.
This raises a serious concern over the legitimacy of business expansion and company ethics of UBER. Now, as the leaks have come through, an UBER spokesperson reveals that the ‘Kill Switch’ tech has been stopped completely, back in 2018. Nonetheless, UBER’s dishonest practices are out in the open. Additional inquiries would only further demonstrate how unscrupulous the organization has been throughout.