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Uber Woes Continue with Surveillance Allegations

Uber is in trouble again after a letter from a former security manager alleging surveillance tactics and other underhand practices was revealed in a court filing.

The 37-page letter, written by Richard Jacobs, was sent to an Uber lawyer earlier this year after he raised concerns over potential criminal activity in the ride-hailing service’s “strategic services” and “marketplace analytics” groups.

He claims to have been demoted as a result of highlighting the issues. However, the letter apparently spurred Uber to reach a $4.5m settlement including a non-disparagement clause and a one-year contract with Jacobs to help the firm “root out bad behavior”.

It reportedly claims that Uber tried to conceal the creation and destruction of corporate records, spied on rival company execs inside a conference center and impersonated taxi drivers to infiltrate opponents’ Facebook and WhatsApp groups.

A statement from the firm had the following:

“While we haven’t substantiated all the claims in this letter — and, importantly, any related to Waymo — our new leadership has made clear that going forward we will compete honestly and fairly, on the strength of our ideas and technology.”

The letter was revealed as part of the discovery process for a case brought against Uber by Alphabet-funded start-up Waymo. It alleges Uber’s acquisition of former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski’s Otto business is nothing short of an attempt to acquire trade secrets from Waymo.

The judge in the case has reportedly told Uber lawyers that they should have revealed the existence of the letter, handed over by federal prosecutors, “long ago”.

The latest revelations will do nothing to help Uber draw a line between the old and new regimes.

As part of those efforts, new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi came clean last month about a major 57m user breach at the firm last year which former executives tried to keep quiet by paying off the hackers.

Uber is currently appealing the loss of its license in London, where authorities claimed it is not a “fit and proper” company to run a taxi service in the capital.

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