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The Courts Privacy Security

Here's the Letter Alleging Uber Spied on Individuals For Competitive Intelligence (recode.net) 37

The judge in the $1.9 billion civil suit between Google-parent company Alphabet's self-driving car unit Waymo and Uber released the letter of a disgruntled former employee -- former Uber security officer Richard Jacobs -- on Friday, laying bare a number of explosive allegations against the ride-hailing company that include corporate espionage, unlawful surveillance, illegal wiretapping, bribery of foreign officials, and illicit hacking. From a report: The letter read: "This program, formerly known as the Strategic Services Group, under Nick Gicinto, collected intelligence and conducted unauthorized surveillance, including unauthorized recording of private conversations against executives from competitor firms, such as DiDi Chuxing and against its own employees and contractors at the Autonomous Technologies Group in Pittsburgh." Jacobs testified in court and walked back some of the allegations made in the letter, which was written by his attorney, Clayton Halunen. Days later, Uber's new chief legal officer Tony West issued a directive to employees to stop surveilling individuals, which Recode first reported. In a separate note to staff Khosrowshahi (current CEO of Uber) said the letter detailed enough to "merit serious concern." While Jacobs, Padilla (Uber's general counsel) and other employees addressed some of the claims made within the letter -- confirming the use of Wickr for business-related communications -- the letter itself had not been made public before Friday evening. The document prepared by Jacobs' attorney also claimed Uber was using some of these surveillance tactics on Alphabet's self-driving arm, Waymo. However, during his testimony, Jacobs walked that allegation back.
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Here's the Letter Alleging Uber Spied on Individuals For Competitive Intelligence

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  • And so, Uber must be destroyed. They rocked the boat of the established players.

    Governments and labor unions will not tolerate that which they cannot control and/or that which changes the status quo. As a result, Rearden Steel...err...Uber will be destroyed as an example.

    Strat

    • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Saturday December 16, 2017 @11:25AM (#55751421) Homepage
      BS, Uber didn't rock any boat... It's a parasite entity that attempts to suck profit off the back of "workers". Calling them "contractors", no benefits, using their own vehicles, competing against each other to drive down cost - by the time you factor in all costs and taxes (of which independent contractors pay ALL), these are sub-minimum wage gigs. Driving someone you don't know to a place you aren't going for money isn't "ride share", it's a taxi. period. And the drivers are shorted the most. This isn't a win.
      • these are sub-minimum wage gigs.

        My sister drives for Uber and makes about $18 per hour after expenses. This is in line with the national average of about $20 per hour [washingtonpost.com]. Some areas are lower, with Detroit being the lowest at $8-$9 per hour, but even that is above minimum wage.

        People are not as stupid and helpless as you assume. If Uber really paid sub-minimum wage, they wouldn't be able to attract drivers.

        • by sphealey ( 2855 )

          = = = People are not as stupid and helpless as you assume. If Uber really paid sub-minimum wage, they wouldn't be able to attract drivers. = = =

          I've seen people with extensive training in engineering economics who do cost/benefit analysis at their day job make terrible financial decisions in their personal lives. Unlike catching a tossed ball, which seems to be built in to the brain, humans just aren't good at doing full lifecycle cost analysis and comparisons of different sets of expense/revenue streams

          • ... make terrible financial decisions in their personal lives.

            Except that isn't happening in this case. For a near-zero-skill part time job with flexible hours, Uber pays pretty well.

        • by GNious ( 953874 )

          Just curious ...
          Is that 18 USD/hr after maintenance costs, fuel, vacation pay, sick-days etc?

    • It isn't clear if the allegations are true. TFA says the accuser "walked back" some of his allegations, which is a euphemism for "admitted he was lying".

      Once a witness has been shown to be a liar, their other allegations tend to be less credible as well. So unless his allegations can be corroborated by other witnesses, or supported by evidence, they don't amount to much. Liars lie.

      • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Saturday December 16, 2017 @01:03PM (#55751769)

        = = = TFA says the accuser "walked back" some of his allegations, which is a euphemism for "admitted he was lying". = = =

        It can be. It can also be a euphemism for "realized he just admitted on tape to several indictable felonies". Given that Uber's entire business model is based on breaking the law this instance could either.

        • Given that Uber's entire business model is based on breaking the law...

          Given that taxicab companies' entire business model is predicated on having bought broken laws from corrupt governments to protect their broken business model, "breaking the law" in this case is a net-positive for everyone except the taxicab companies, their unions, and the government.

          Protectionism is bad, m'kay? Even when it's (and often, especially when it's) domestic.

          "Legal" =/= "good", "fair", or "just". Everything Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot did were "legal". Civil forfeiture is "legal" in the US. Up u

          • by sphealey ( 2855 )

            = = = Protectionism is bad, m'kay? Even when it's (and often, especially when it's) domestic = = =

            That is a political philosophy (one popular in the tech world, which counts about 5% of the polity) and debatable. When the answers to the debate are embodied in laws then the appropriate forum of debate is the legislature, not the unilateral decision to break the law.

            • Protectionism is bad, m'kay? Even when it's (and often, especially when it's) domestic

              That is a political philosophy (one popular in the tech world, which counts about 5% of the polity) and debatable.

              I believe far more than 5% hold that opinion, but that is not my point. Most Germans just prior to WW2 held views largely in line with the Nazis, same with Russians and Stalin. That did not make those laws right either.

              When the answers to the debate are embodied in laws then the appropriate forum of debate is the legislature, not the unilateral decision to break the law.

              "Lex iniusta non est lex" - "An unjust law is no law at all". When the legislature fails in it's duty to not pass unjust or unconstitutional laws and/or refuses to correct it's errors when it does, natural l

            • When the answers to the debate are embodied in laws then the appropriate forum of debate is the legislature, not the unilateral decision to break the law.

              Bullcrap. People have, not only a right, but a duty to refuse to obey unjust laws. Uber's violations were certainly more self-serving than the civil disobedience of the civil rights and anti-colonialism movements, but they helped to bring down a corrupt system, and we should be thankful for that.

      • It isn't clear if the allegations are true. TFA says the accuser "walked back" some of his allegations, which is a euphemism for "admitted he was lying".

        After he wrote the letter he was hired as a 'consultant' for 4.5 million dollars, of which, it is paid out over time and he has thus far recieved 1 million (a significant percentage of the payment is due at the end of the contract). If he testifies that everything in the document is true, he will likely be fired and not get 3.5 million dollars, so he has 3.5 million reasons to say that the document isn't accurate.

  • Might be easier (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 16, 2017 @11:01AM (#55751347)

    To list all the sleazy and illegal things Uber hasn't done.

  • Have you seen the motivation of the editors yet?

  • in the age of Trump the justice dept is going to let corporations "police themselves".

    this is not going to end well. it really isn't.

Nothing recedes like success. -- Walter Winchell

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