Lobbying in high places, concealing information, manipulating public opinion: this is the price Uber has paid to conquer the world, as revealed by the Uber Files, a vast investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) involving 40 media partners, including Le Monde, The Guardian and L'Espresso. Based on more than 124,000 confidential documents belonging to the American Mobility as a Service (MaaS) platform obtained by The Guardian, the investigation sheds light on the aggressive practices employed by Uber between 2013 and 2017 to establish itself in several parts of the world.
Several international political figures were approached, with varying degrees of success, by the Californian firm, including current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (then Mayor of Hamburg), US President Joe Biden (Vice President at the time), and George Osborne when he was the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer. Uber seem to have found an ally in French President Emmanuel Macron when he was Minister of the Economy. Macron is said to have met frequently with Uber representatives, in addition to assisting with its lobbying, in secret and against the opinion of his own government. Former European Commissioner Neelie Kroes is said to have lobbied the Dutch government on behalf of Uber during the period following the end of her mandate in Brussels, before joining the company's advisory board for a fee of 200,000 euros.
The Uber Files also reveal that the company has exploited social movements and violence for publicity purposes, and has a proven habit of destroying confidential information, embodied by a "kill switch" - a protocol for cutting off access to company data in the event of a search.
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