With just weeks left to go, 2017 is still bringing damning revelations for ride-sharing app and transport company Uber. The company started this year by losing its operating rights in London, previously their most lucrative market. Just weeks ago, the company revealed that it had been hiding evidence of a hack dated to 2016. The breach of their servers resulted in the theft of 57 million user emails, along with detailed info about several thousand of their own drivers. To cover up the scandal the company paid $100,000 to a yet-to-be identified hacker who hid evidence of the breach. The company is now facing accusations of carrying out a series of electronic crimes.
November of this year led to revelations that Uber maintained a secretive team amongst its ranks dedicated to a number of dubious and underhanded cyber projects. The team was alleged to have carried out surveillance of competitors, stolen valuable trade secrets, and covertly ignored a number of government regulations. Ric Jacobs, a former member of the company’s security detail, is the source of the revelations, which were laid out in a 37-page letter he penned and sent off to top executives within the company. Jacobs has continued with his attacks against the company’s alleged actions and his campaign seems to be working. This week the US Department of Justice revealed that they are currently investigating the company for its alleged role in hijacking trade secrets.
Jacobs received a $4.5 million settlement for his claims and while this may lend his statements some credibility, for their part Uber has used the payoff to claim he is nothing more than an extortionist. Judge William Alsup, the US District Court judge currently overseeing Waymo’s case against Uber, derided the company’s dismissive and accusatory comments toward Jacobs as “bs.” Waymo, a spinoff of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., alleges it was victim to Uber’s long program of corporate espionage. Specifically, Uber is accused of stealing Alphabet’s cutting-edge tech behind their prototype self-driving cars.
Given Jacobs’ ongoing revelations, the case could win out in Alphabet’s favor. Jacobs has recently gone into further detail about the methods Uber used to spy on and disrupt its competitors in overseas markets, though who was targeted has been redacted from the public. This comes ahead the company’s plans for next year to take on the Asian market, which is currently dominated by Grab, Taxify, Easy Taxi, and others.