Economy, Auto

Uber Corporate Spy Tactics Exposed

Uber Corporate Spy Tactics ExposedUber Corporate Spy Tactics Exposed

An explosive letter from a former Uber employee has exposed some secret tactics the company has used to keep eyes on the competition. The strategies include secretly recording conversations between rival executives of Grab and Didi, spying on taxi groups and impersonating customers to flood competitors with thousands of requests.

The Jacobs Letter, as it’s been called, was penned by an attorney for Richard Jacobs, a former manager of global intelligence at the company, and has already disrupted the high-stakes legal battle between Uber and Waymo, causing the federal judge overseeing the case to delay the trial and to rail against Uber’s lawyers for not disclosing it earlier, Forbes reported.

The 37-page letter paints a picture of a competitive and paranoid company that was driven to find any way to get ahead.

In one example, Jacobs’ attorney alleges that Uber had a network of anonymous servers set up so that it could “make millions of data calls against competitor and government servers without creating signatures that would alert competitors to the theft.” While many competitors would be able to pick up on the thousands of ride requests coming from a single phone, the Uber system was allegedly set up so the calls would “appear to be multiple devices and a broader time period” in order to avoid detection, the letter states.

Jacobs’ attorney alleges in the letter that Jacobs had heard about Uber bribing foreign officials and also paying inflated wages to foreign groups.

Jacobs, through his lawyer’s letter, also took issue with Uber’s use of encrypted and ephemeral communication. In his letter, Jacobs’ lawyer claims that Uber, and in large part due to one of its attorneys Craig Clark, had “implemented a sophisticated strategy to destroy, conceal, cover up, and falsify records or documents with the intent to impede or obstruct government investigations as well as discover obligations in pending and future litigation.”

Meanwhile, characterizing the letter as “fantastical”, Uber’s new leadership is working to try to distance itself from the company’s previous competitive tactics.

Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi reiterated the ban he instituted on using encrypted messaging services, like Wickr or Telegram, for business purposes. Uber’s new Chief Legal Officer, Tony West, also sent out a note to the company to put an immediate stop to any “competitive intelligence project” that included human surveillance.

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