Hillicon Valley — The ‘Uber Files’

·5 min read

Recent leaked files reveal that Uber secretly lobbied prominent leaders from around the globe in an attempt to achieve its regulatory and political goals. The files detail an extensive lobbying network including more than 100 meetings with public officials from 18 countries.

Meanwhile, Mark MacGann, Uber’s formerhead of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has come forward as the whistleblower that leaked the “Uber Files.”

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Uber’s secret lobbying meetings

Ride-hailing app Uber secretly lobbied prominent politicians in countries across the world — including the current leaders of the United States, France and Germany — to achieve its regulatory and political goals, according to leaked internal company files released over the weekend.

The “Uber Files” — which include emails, text messages and other documents from 2013 to 2017 obtained by The Guardian and shared with dozens of other media outlets — detail an extensive lobbying network that included many former aides to top political figures in the U.S. and other countries as Uber sought to expand its operations across the globe.

  • In many regions, governments tightly regulated taxi licenses, making Uber’s expansion plans a major disruptor to traditional industry rules. 

  • The reports reveal how Uber broke through those obstacles by leveraging its lobbyists to win over figures such as President Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the company’s goals when the men were in lower political offices.

In all, the leaked documents revealed more than 100 meetings with public officials from 18 countries and European Union institutions.

Read more here.

UBER’S WHISTLEBLOWER

Mark MacGann, Uber’s formerhead of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has come forward as the whistleblower who leaked the “Uber Files,” more than 124,000 internal documents revealing evidence of the ride-hailing giant’s misconduct.

MacGann, who leaked the files to The Guardian, said in an interview with the outlet on Monday that he did so because “I am partly responsible” for what he believes to be unethical and illegal activity from the company.

“I was the one talking to governments, I was the one pushing this with the media, I was the one telling people that they should change the rules because drivers were going to benefit and people were going to get so much economic opportunity,” MacGann said.

Uber attempted to carve out space for itself by battling taxi drivers and regulators in more than 40 countries, sometimes persuading government officials to join the fight, MacGann said.

Read more here.

Musk mocks Twitter over potential lawsuit

Elon Musk on Monday tweeted a meme mocking Twitter as it prepares to sue Musk for attempting to back out of a deal to buy the social media giant.

The meme shared by Musk includes four sequential images of the Tesla founder in increasingly hysterical laughter, each of which is accompanied by a caption that criticizes the social media platform for Musk’s complaints it did not provide accurate and comprehensive information on “fake or spam” accounts.

“They said I couldn’t buy Twitter, then they wouldn’t disclose bot info, now they want to force me to buy Twitter in court, now they have to disclose bot info in court,” the four captions read.

Musk’s deal to buy the social media platform was thrown into turmoil when he demanded more information on the prevalence of fake accounts on Twitter, arguing the details were fundamental to the business and needed to complete the agreement.

Read more here.

DEFENSE FIRM ENDS DEAL TO BUY ISRAELI SPYWARE

U.S. defense contractor L3Harris has reportedly ended its bid to buy spyware and hacking tools from Israeli tech company NSO Group.

According to news reports, L3Harris ended the talks following security concerns raised by the Biden administration last month that the acquisition of the spyware would “pose a serious counterintelligence and security risk to U.S. personnel and systems.”

U.S. officials familiar with the matter told The Washington Post that the defense firm “reached out to the U.S. government and said they would not be moving forward” with the acquisition a few days after the concerns were made public.

The administration has also raised concerns that the spyware has been used by foreign governments to spy on human rights activists, journalists and politicians.

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: The Kremlin’s data-driven propaganda machine is just getting started

Notable links from around the web:

What’s Next in the Elon Musk-Twitter Saga? A Court Battle (The New York Times / Lauren Hirsch and Kate Conger)

Elon Musk Doesn’t Seem To Realize That Twitter Is Already A Free Speech Warrior In Countries Where It Actually Matters (BuzzFeed News / Pranav Dixit)

Russia Seeks to Punish Expats Who Criticize War on Social Media (Bloomberg / Margi Murphy and Madis Kabash)

One more thing: Biden unveils telescope image

President Biden is revealing the first full-color image from the James Webb Space Telescope — the deepest view ever captured of our universe — at a White House ceremony with NASA on Monday.

“The world is about to be new again,” said Eric Smith, Webb program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a statement on NASA’s blog.

Webb’s advanced technology has allowed it to discover new stars, to explore faraway planets and to see through time with infrared captures of exoplanet atmospheres and glows from galaxies that developed just after the Big Bang.

Read more here.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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