Global ride-hailing giant Uber is under the spotlight after a cache of leaked documents indicate how the company leveraged conflict against its own drivers to garner concessions in new markets and evaded regulatory oversight.

The news emerged after documents were secured by the Guardian and shared with the International Consortium of International Journalists (ICIJ), resulting in a joint media investigation involving several newsrooms.

Dubbed ‘The Uber Files’, dozens of news organisations found that Uber officials took advantage of the sometimes violent backlash against the company’s drivers from the taxi industry in new markets to garner support and regulatory concessions. Documents also show that the company used technology to evade regulatory oversight, something that Uber’s top brass has denied.

Around 124,000 documents were lifted from Uber, covering 2013-2017, and include unedited text and email exchanges between executives.

One stand-out message by former chief executive officer Travis Kalanick, who had been forced to resign in 2017 due to accusations of sexual and psychological harassment, reads:

“Violence guarantee(s) success.”

International media report that the former executive said the words while pushing for a counter protest amid the sometimes heated demonstrations in Paris in 2016 protesting the entry of Uber into the market.

Uber has been a disruptive force in the taxi and cab industry, having championed ride-hailing technology. It’s rapid expansion into global markets heavily depended on subsidised drivers and discounted fares that undercut the taxi industry, The Washington Post reported, one of the newsrooms involved in the investigation.

Uber has also come under heavy fire for its lobbying Governments to aid its expansion, finding a friendly reception by France’s Emmanuel Macron, who was economy minister at the time and is today President, then US vice President and current President Joe Biden and several others.

Uber arrived in Malta just weeks ago, in partnership with Alf Mizzi and Sons. And, while the company’s arrival in many European countries has been the cause of heated protests and demonstrations by the taxi industry, it’s arrival in Malta has not had a similar effect.

As such, the taxi industry in Malta had already been heavily disrupted by eCabs and Bolt (formerly Taxify), which have a well-established ride-hailing business.


Brussels protest/ Alessandro Ford

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