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Uber Trained Employees on How To 'Impede, Obstruct or Influence' Ongoing Legal Investigations, Ex-employee Says (cnbc.com) 62

From a report on CNBC: Uber faced fresh allegations on Tuesday that it deliberately took steps to keep " unlawful schemes from seeing the light of day." Hours of testimony on Tuesday centered around a letter from a former Uber security analyst's attorney to an Uber lawyer. The former analyst, Richard Jacobs, said in the letter there was a directive for Uber employees to use disappearing chat apps like Wickr, and that Uber sent employees to Pittsburgh (where it's developing its autonomous vehicles) to "educate" them on how to prevent "Uber's unlawful schemes from seeing the light of day." He reportedly made other bombshell allegations in the letter, including that employees at Uber were trained to "impede" ongoing investigations, multiple media outlets reported.
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Uber Trained Employees on How To 'Impede, Obstruct or Influence' Ongoing Legal Investigations, Ex-employee Says

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  • they need some contempt of court a few days in county will fix them.

    • by powerlord ( 28156 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @04:39PM (#55639215) Journal

      So if companies are legally People ... can they hold the Company in Contempt and force it to cease operation while it is "in jail"?

      • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
        Unless a company is put on death row like people, then it is not a people.
        • by sheph ( 955019 )
          This is where if a corporation is people then the executive officers and the board should be the ones on the hook for something like this. This wasn't a unilateral decision it was corporate practice. And the only way you stop things like this from becoming a recurring theme is to hold them accountable.
          • How it usually works is that the low-level employees are given quotas or targets that are impossible to make legally, and then they can be fired if any authority catches on. That way, the corporate officers keep their noses clean and don't take responsibility for their decisions. In this case, it looks like an actual policy to implement illegal policies and cover them up, which is more dangerous.

            Thing is, though, to send someone to prison for a crime requires proving that that person actually committed

        • There are degrees of peopleness. Perhaps Uber's degree can be increased, through application of pain, fear, sensory deprivation, or crushed dreams.

      • This argument is at least 175 years old.

        When Britain, and rest of Europe, were creating limited liability companies, it was opposed because no one would go to jail if the company defaults. Those were the days of debtor's prison.

        Who goes to jail for a company's criminal actions has always been a vexing questions.

        We have jailed GE executives for breaking monopoly and anti-trust laws back in 1910s. But sadly we have gone for too long without sending these executives to jail. Just a few in jail would brin

      • by sphealey ( 2855 )

        - - - - - So if companies are legally People ... can they hold the Company in Contempt and force it to cease operation while it is "in jail"? - - - - -

        Arthur Andersen says hi.

    • "they need some contempt of court a few days in county will fix them."

      Court? I thought court would come in play only after any investigation was finished.

      This IMHO falls under the good advice of "Don't talk to the police, EVER!, it can only hurt you."

      • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

        Court comes into play throughout an investigation.

        Court orders and warrents and what not. I'm not weighing in on if any court mandates we're violated though.

      • "Don't talk to the police, EVER!, it can only hurt you."

        That's what Weinstein was saying: Don't talk to police, ever, as it will hurt you.

  • by WCMI92 ( 592436 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @04:29PM (#55639077) Homepage

    The company needs dissolution, the principals arrested and all assets seized.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The execs need to be hung at the town square.

    • Here I was going to post my own comment to the effect of "Is it just me, or does Uber look and act like a totally criminal enterprise, like literally run by the Mob or something?", and you beat me to it. ;-)

      We are in complete agreement. Uber needs to go away.
      • Ah, and who do you think runs the Taxi Commission?

        Legality aside, I'm not convinced that Uber is any *morally* worse than the guys they replace. Of course, both organizations are in dire need of improvement. The question for the rest of us is: which business model is easier to regulate, sue, whatever, into a state of fairness? I haven't been convinced that that's the commission-and-medallion model... LONG history of problems there. But I'm willing to hear arguments...
    • "The company needs dissolution, the principals arrested and all assets seized."

      Is that going to affect the stock price?

  • Well, to be fair, your own using of your incognito browser might count as "using tools to impede, obstruct, or influence legal investigation", if someone was later interested in suing or prosecuting you for: 1) purchasing alcohol while underage, 2) browsing someone's LinkedIn profile to try to poach them for your company, 3) bypassing ads and depriving them of revenue.

    Lots of things depend on how they're looked back on later...
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @04:46PM (#55639297)

      Regardless how you look at Uber they are criminals, they are screwing employees [independent.co.uk], they are screwing customers [bloomberg.com], they are screwing authorities [theverge.com] and more!

      I will never use Uber even if they are the last company on Earth.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        You are of course entirely missing the point.

        Using untraceable and uncrackable methods of communications are not inherently illegal. They aren't by themselves obstruction of justice.

        These kinds of things are standards that apply equally to everyone including you. It doesn't matter how much you hate them. You don't get to apply a double standard to them.

        This is just more of the usual "professional trolling disguised as journalism" and you're lapping it up like an idiot with no self-awareness.

        • by sphealey ( 2855 )

          If Uber is an incorporated entity in the United States then various laws and civil requirements apply, including Sarbanes-Oxley documentation requirements and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure business document archiving "guidelines" [where "guidelines" = requirements]. A brief introduction:

          http://www.metrocorpcounsel.co... [metrocorpcounsel.com]

    • Well, to be fair, your own using of your incognito browser might count as "using tools to impede, obstruct, or influence legal investigation"

      No, that would be after the investigation begins, not beforehand.

  • See subject.

  • Shades of gray (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lije Baley ( 88936 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @05:11PM (#55639533)

    Other companies do this, just not in so many words. Aside from the nudging and winking policies, some things are done under overt, yet bogus reasons. My company now deletes virtually all email after 3 months, to better manage storage resources and adhere to best practices for retention.

    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      "My company now deletes virtually all email after 3 months, to better manage storage resources and adhere to best practices for retention."

      So if your company is a public company, you're in violation of Sec 802(a)(1) and 802(a)(2) Sarbanes-Oxley data retention laws!

    • Other companies do this, just not in so many words. Aside from the nudging and winking policies, some things are done under overt, yet bogus reasons. My company now deletes virtually all email after 3 months, to better manage storage resources and adhere to best practices for retention.

      Three months is rather short. Most companies have a one year retention policy. This isn't for any nefarious reasons, and it's not to save disk space. It's to limit the information available to discovery during lawsuits, less to make the information unavailable than to eliminate the need to pay lawyers lots and lots of money to comb through it to comply with discovery requests. Since any large company -- no matter how saintly -- is always involved in multiple lawsuits, this saves huge amounts of money.

  • Maybe... (Score:3, Informative)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday November 28, 2017 @05:16PM (#55639569) Homepage Journal

    I'm not a fan of Uber as a company. They've done a lot of shady crap. But this sounds like it could also be normal corporate "speaking with care" training. Every company I've ever worked for has told me to be cautious with communicating about legally-sensitive topics in writing (including email and chat systems that archive conversations). Said training usually includes information about how to specify that written communication is attorney-client privileged, too, which makes it non-discoverable in most legal proceedings, plus a recommendation that if you're in doubt, you should hold your conversation in person or over the phone (or video conference).

    This is just normal stuff. Sure, it could be used to avoid leaving documentary evidence of illegal dealings, but that's not its intent. Its intent is to avoid generating large amounts of documentation that has to be reviewed in discovery, and which could be exploited by opposing counsel by mischaracterizing it or taking it out of context. For individual employees, it also tends to keep them out of the line of fire of subpoenas. If you mentioned a topic in discoverable communications, you're likely to get subpoenaed to give a deposition.

    It should be noted that if you're actually doing something illegal, and if your attorney is unethical enough to advise you on how to get away with it, the training shouldn't tell you to use any chat apps, or phone calls, etc., because there's always a chance that an investigation is already under way and that the communications medium is tapped. If you're committing crime, "speaking with care" recommendations are not good enough.

  • Uber must be pretty threatening; they appear to garner more attention than organised crime.

  • No,

    This is what racketeer influenced and corrupt organization (RICO) was invented for and it's how those whose hands are "clean" ( shareholders and all the rest who can't be directly connected to the acts, but profited anyway ) are held accountable for this type of operation.

    I'm certain this isn't the only one in the valley, but it's certainly about the most egregious.

     

  • So this is me the last few months:

    "I could make more money if i drove for Uber too HOLY SHIT THE OWNER YELLED AT A DRIVER??"

    "Oh I'm overreacting, it's money HOLY CRAP SEXUAL ALLEGATIONS?"

    "I really need to relax and just apply, it's money in my pocke...WTF YOU GUYS PUT YOUR AWS CREDENTIALS IN A GITHUB REPO???"

    "My kid really deserves better, i should download the app and jus.....WHAT THE HELL THEY KNOWINGLY AND BRAZENLY SUBVERT THE LAW???"

    I really don't know what to say at this point...

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