Uber Leaks: 3 Key Points to Understand the Controversy

More than 124,000 Documents were Leaked Showing the Various Questionable Moves that led to Uber Becoming a Transportation Giant. Here we Explain You What they Consist of.

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LatinAmerican Post| Juan Manuel Londoño

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Leer en español: Uber Leaks: 3 puntos claves para entender la controversia

A cache of more than 100,000 documents is putting Uber's reputation in question. This enormous amount of documents, which covers more than 40 countries during the period 2013 to 2017, was initially leaked to the British newspaper The Guardian, but it proved to be such a monumental task that this medium had to ask for the help of The Washington Post, the Toronto Star, Le Monde, El País and the Indian Express to cover this news of a global nature.

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Here we tell you the 3 key points you should know to understand the nature of this news.

What is Uber accused of?

These documents reveal several ethically questionable practices by the company.

They show, for example, that Uber offered incentives to both passengers and drivers that would not be sustainable, in an effort to forcibly establish itself in markets where the service was initially illegal.

The company also made a massive lobbying effort to put pressure on governments to legalize its service. In 2016 alone, they wanted to spend more than $90 million on lobbying and PR. Among other things, they also detail that from the company they were adept at looking for alternative routes to chat with those in power, through friends and intermediaries.

One of the hottest points in these accusations is the fact that Uber encouraged and celebrated violence against its own drivers as a media strategy. For example, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick once ordered his executives to encourage their drivers in France to respond to protests against the service with counter-protests, knowing this could expose them to violent attacks. Given this, Kalanick responded in one of the leaked messages that "Violence guarantees success."

The man who leaked the documents

Mark MacGann, a career lobbyist, revealed his identity as the man who leaked the documents in an interview a few days ago with The Guardian. MacGann, who worked with the company from 2014 to 2016, was a key player in the company's strategy to enter new markets and was also in charge of opposing those politicians who wanted to stop the company's expansion.

MacGann said he released the documents because he says it's in the public's interest to learn Uber's story. During his time at the company, he received several physical threats, such as from an Uber representative, and says that it was a “traumatic” experience. McGann acknowledges that the documents will reveal his involvement in questionable activities, but also says there is "no statute of limitations on doing the right thing."

What did Uber reply?

Through a statement, the company did not deny any of the accusations, but insisted that its conduct in the past does not reflect its current values. She also asked the public to judge them by what the company has done in these last 5 years, instead of what it did in the time period reflected in the documents.

On the other hand, they also questioned the credibility of MacGann. They insisted that "he is not in a position to speak credibly about the company" and that "when he left the company 6 years ago, he had nothing but praise for Uber." They also highlighted that Mark was in legal proceedings to receive money owed to him by the company and that he only leaked documents after he received this money.