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Uber papers’

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Uber papers’ reveal pressure on political leaders and illegal activities to set up in many cities

An investigation of more than 124,000 documents led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the British newspaper The Guardian, brings to light the pressure strategies and illegal techniques used by the company Uber to favor its positioning in local markets.

In 2014, while thousands of cab drivers were protesting in the main European cities because of the threat posed to them by a company that operated, in many cases, without being subject to any kind of regulation and at the limit of legality, Uber used all its political, media and legal influence to make the law more flexible in its favor. In fact, the Silicon Valley-born company took advantage of the cab sector’s protests to portray itself as a victim of the drivers’ backlash and thus approach several political leaders.

Uber spent millions of dollars a year lobbying and trying to get high-ranking officials across Europe, such as Emanuel Macron himself, to adapt labor regulations in its favor. Confrontation between Uber and local authorities became the company’s modus operandi. Political campaigns, unions and professional associations favorable to Uber were supported; lawyers were paid to appeal any regulation contrary to their interests, and influencers were bribed at all levels to position public opinion in their favor.

Thanks to 83,000 emails leaked to The Guardian and another thousand files related to conversations from three laptops and four iPhones, a total of 182 gigabytes of information, the dirty laundry of the technology company between 2013 and 2017 have been known. It was in that period of time when Uber undertook the large and aggressive expansion of its activity around the world.

Uber started in 2009 and grew spectacularly. In four years it was already present in more than 100 cities around the world and only two years later it was already working in 500 European locations. Today they make an average of 19 million trips per day and have 115 million users, according to company data.

For many, Uber’s business model was synonymous with job insecurity and job precariousness, in fact the change from salaried workers to a new model of workers who at the same time worked for the company but were not employees of the company, worsening their working conditions, was called uberization.

At a certain point, due to the aggressive behavior of Uber and many other companies born on the web, there was the loss of the innocence of the Internet, when everyone realized that in reality, the companies that had been born to bring a new economy based on values, were actually just the new multinationals that were going to obtain record profits around the world taking advantage of the naivety of their users and the regulatory loopholes they found thanks to the advent of the Internet.

Uber claims that its “aggressive behavior of the past is not in line with today’s values” and that today it is a “different company”, and there may even be some who believe it.

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