back to article Leaked Uber docs reveal frequent use of 'kill switch' to deactivate tech, thwart investigators

A data leak from ride-sharing app Uber revealed activities allegedly geared to avoid regulation and law enforcement – including a "kill switch" that would remotely cut computer access to servers at its headquarters in San Francisco in case of a raid – according to weekend media. The leak was provided to The Guardian and shared …

  1. Lis

    Neelie Kroes

    was also involved. The one that helped fine Microsoft and Intel for whatever. Wonder if either of those 2 companies are "looking" at this. But given that Macron is an ex banker, well his behaviour is just par for the course.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62057321

    Ishy

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Neelie Kroes

      there was already an obvious response from Macros spokesbot, to the effect that as a politician he has a duty to contact blahblahblah he's a president fuckoff.

      And please don't mention Boris J...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Neelie Kroes

        Macron is France's Tony Blair, he's just in it for the personal glory. The shit is now hitting the fan.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Neelie Kroes

        All right, I won't, but the Guardian does, and in a surprisingly positive manner:

        "The disclosure will reignite questions over whether Uber recruited Osborne and other supportive Conservative cabinet ministers to pressure the then London mayor, Boris Johnson, into diluting proposed minicab reforms in the autumn of 2015.

        At the time, Johnson said he had been deluged by “rampant, frothing, free-market Conservatives” opposing a suggested tightening of regulations on private-hire vehicles. By January 2016 Uber was reported to have won a major victory when Transport for London (TfL) abandoned the proposals."

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          Re: Neelie Kroes

          The Guardian hates Uber, because...? Well, no discernible reason. There's a bit of a trend there of irrationally opposing jobs for new immigrants, but that can't be right, they're lifelong antiracists.

          Reality is that the legacy taxi cartels at least verge on organised crime, where they are not well-known to be entirely controlled by it - many cities around the world, from New York to relatively small towns.

          Uber is orders of magnitude safer for passengers, and cheaper, and preferred by drivers. Legacy minicab firms were primarily known for tax dodging and treating their drivers like dirt, driving pay well below minimum wage. It's really hard to see what people complain about Uber for.

          The Guardian is trying to forget the bit where there was massive, borderline acceptable lobbying by both sides, but only one side got caught paying actual bribes and engaging in criminal intimidation, and it wasn't Uber.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Neelie Kroes

            How exactly are you safer in an unlicensed Uber, where in most jurisdictions there has been no real checks on insurance, vehicle condition or criminal convictions of the driver?

            And you really think most of them make more than the minimum wage, and pay tax?

            1. VicMortimer
              Terminator

              Re: Neelie Kroes

              They do run background checks and checks on insurance. If the local gov doesn't care about vehicle condition, why should Uber? Places where taxis get inspected, Ubers get inspected. Where I am, neither of them do.

              And the drivers don't really have much choice about tax, what they get paid gets reported.

              Minimum wage? LOLOLOLOLOLOL of course not.

          2. badflorist

            Re: Neelie Kroes

            "Uber is orders... cheaper..."

            Orders, plural? If I can turn a $10,000 taxi fare into $100... I'm going everywhere!!!

          3. juice Silver badge

            Two wrongs don't make a right

            > Reality is that the legacy taxi cartels at least verge on organised crime, where they are not well-known to be entirely controlled by it - many cities around the world, from New York to relatively small towns.

            Cartels are generally a bad thing. But I'm struggling to see how replacing a local cartel with an international cartel would ever be a good idea, especially when companies like Uber have literally billions of dollars of money to use (legally or otherwise) to maintain their market dominance.

            > Uber is orders of magnitude safer for passengers, and cheaper, and preferred by drivers. Legacy minicab firms were primarily known for tax dodging and treating their drivers like dirt, driving pay well below minimum wage. It's really hard to see what people complain about Uber for.

            This would be the same Uber who was routinely paying their drivers below the minimum wage, until eventually forced by legal action to change things? The same Uber who was doing that across the entire world? E.g.

            The USA: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/01/uber-lyft-driver-wages-median-report

            The UK: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-56412397

            ... and the same Uber which has yet to make a profit, since they've been continuously burning through their investor funding by subsidising passenger costs in an effort to drive out rivals and monopolise the market?

            I'll grant that Uber is nominally safer for passengers than the traditional "hail from the kerb" black cab, but they're far from the only company to offer an internet-based hailing service. E.g. in Sheffield, the local firm City Taxis has been offering much the same service, at a similar price, and this was rolled out about a decade ago.

            And truth to tell, City Taxis have generally been more reliable than Uber, and they don't have those insane surge-pricing periods, during which it's cheaper (if ironically, less safe) to just flag down the next black cab you see.

            Beyond that, my (admittedly simplistic) understanding of Uber was that it was essentially a massive high-payout gamble based on the theory that self-driving cars were just a few years away.

            I.e. first they intended to capture as much market share as quickly as possible, both to drive out any rivals and also to outpace any legal action which could be levelled at their business practices.

            Secondly, once they had market dominance, they were going to roll out self-driving taxis, which would then allow them to do away with taxi drivers altogether, alongside all of their pesky wage requirements.

            And with that lovely market dominance to protect them from rivals and politicians alike, they'd then be able to behave in the traditional monopolist way, arbitrarily raising prices, crushing potential upcoming rivals and generally sitting back on their laurels and letting things stagnate.

            Sadly for them, self-driving cars turned out to be far trickier than expected, and that meant that the world's legal systems were able to catch up to them and force them to change their behaviour.

            It'll be interesting to see just how things play out in the next year or two. Though at the very least, Uber has somewhat acted as a mechanism to redistribute wealth, by taking all that investor money and using it to subsidise passenger fares and driver costs...

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Two wrongs don't make a right

              "I'll grant that Uber is nominally safer for passengers than the traditional "hail from the kerb" black cab, but they're far from the only company to offer an internet-based hailing service."

              How does using a data harvesting App make getting a ride somewhere cheaper? I'd rather get a random well marked taxi off the street or from a rank at a train station or hotel and pay them (plus tip if deserved) in cash.

              I am reminded of Stranger in a Strange Land where Ben Caxton is hijacked by a cab he is in and made to disappear for a while. Being taken captive by a cab has been used a few time, but it boils down to The Man knowing you are in a particular cab. Use an App and They know where you are. Use something other than cash to pay a fare and they know where you came from, where you went and when. I don't always take my mobile with me and sometimes I stick it in a shielded bag even when off just to leave some gaps. I'm no international man of mystery, but I don't find it necessary that some government agency or data aggregator knows where I am all of the time even when I would like to have my phone with me just in case.

          4. iron Silver badge

            Re: Neelie Kroes

            > the legacy taxi cartels

            Only in the USA, we do not have such problems in the rest of the world.

          5. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Neelie Kroes

            Personally I don't mind competition but the companies should be on a level playing field and not trying to hoodwink the regulators. I do care about companies obeying the laws and regulations of the land, and that’s not something I associate Uber with.

            https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2017/09/08/uber_under_fbi_investigation/

            https://www.theregister.com/2018/01/11/uber_ripley/

            This is a little old but interesting nonetheless:

            https://www.londonreconnections.com/2017/understanding-uber-not-app/

          6. James Anderson

            Re: Neelie Kroes

            Uber used billions of Venture Capitalist dollars in a failed attempt to get an Amazon style monopoly on taxi services. They operate at a substantial loss charging fees that do not cover costs hoping to bankrupt existing services.

            In the UK at least taxis and mini cabs are heavily regulated although over priced and decidedly old tech and not particularly user friendly.

            The one good thing about Uber is that it gave existing services a wake up call. Almost every taxi company now has on line booking.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Neelie Kroes

              "Uber used billions of Venture Capitalist dollars in a failed attempt to get an Amazon style monopoly on taxi services. They operate at a substantial loss charging fees that do not cover costs hoping to bankrupt existing services."

              A page out of Walmart's play book. It's also a favorite of asian tigers looking to corner the market on something or lots of somethings. Magnets are an interesting case in point. They are ubiquitous and found in all sorts of products that you wouldn't even think of when they are mentioned. They also used to be made in the US, but strangely, they aren't anymore and a couple of the largest makers found it hard to compete with the magnets from a very large country and when they finally couldn't compete anymore, companies from that country bought the assets and whisked them out of the US so nobody else could come along and start a magnet business. For reference, ceramic magnets are pressed and sintered so they take very large presses and multi-stage drying processes that would be expensive to build from the ground up. It's not a glamorous business and unlikely to attract enough investment to make a go of it.

        2. graeme leggett

          Re: Neelie Kroes

          "rampant, frothing, free-market Conservatives"

          Strange comment, he seemed to have packed his cabinet with them more recently...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Neelie Kroes

            Along with saying "it's all ancient history... move along, nothing nothing to see here..."

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Uber is a different company today

    At the risk of giving them ideas, unless they've set up a new business and transferred the brand, they're very much legally the same company.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Uber is a different company today

      Too bad that argument doesn't hold water for young offenders of the law that get caught 10 years later. They're still accountable for their actions, regardless if they have turned over a new leaf and seen the error in their ways. Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 quatloos... go directly to jail. No get out of jail free cards!

      F%ck the corporate world and their SOP, worse that gubbermints in some cases!

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Uber is a different company today

        Sure sounds like an ongoing criminal conspiracy to me. If you ask me, prosecution couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

        I think their only hope is the Federal Witness Protection Program. Maybe they can be disguised as a manufacturer of paper cups and novelty items based in Caribou, Maine?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Uber is a different company today

          Caribou nibbling at the croquet hoops.

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: Uber is a different company today

        I agree, but I feel bound to point out that the "we've changed" line is being advanced as a PR defence, not a legal one.

        If there are specific legal repercussions incoming, they will be met with equally specific defences designed to deflect, repel, or in the worst case to limit their damage. Which is what anyone faced with legal charges does, whether a company or an individual.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Uber is a different company today

          The issue being that the new management team was well aware of the ongoing criminal conspiracy that the old management was engaged in, and didn't report it. Instead they have tried to quietly cover it up as part of the standard corporate playbook. So they chose to aid and abet the prior managements criminal conspiracy, and are an accessory after the fact for some of the actual crimes of their predecessors.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: Uber is a different company today

            Maybe, maybe not. Now all this private info has been leaked, maybe we'll see the idea get tested in court. But until then, I think we should be very cautious about accusing specific people of specific crimes.

            For instance, is it a crime to fail to report wrongdoing by your predecessor in a job? To the cops? I don't know, but I imagine the answer varies depending where you are, as well as the severity and degree of wrongdoing.

      3. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Uber is a different company today

        Grandfather's axe paradox... If 100% of the company changes, is it still the same company?

        In this case, answer is yes - ref the experiment with monkeys exposed to certain conditions, new monkeys introduced learn to behave in same way as old ones, and in the end you could have 100% monkeys that were never exposed to the original conditions but still behave that way through learned behaviour.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Uber is a different company today

          Never mind grandfather's axe, Trigger's Broom or Whatisface's ship.

          If the incorporation, name,infrastructure, client lists and what have you are the same, it's the same company.

          1. Lon24 Silver badge

            Re: Uber is a different company today

            Yes, it is a different company. No longer the insurgent using every means fair or foul to knock out competition - financed by folks like Goldman Sachs. Burning cash to undercut and take out competition and grab market share.

            Now, of course, as a dominant company they focus on extracting return from their strong market position. Oh, and finding ways to resist new insurgents. The issue is - revenues today and future profits are built on the misdemeanours of yesterday.

            The attempt to say 'nuffin to do with us guv" is about as honest as a taxi owner claiming "I have a right to use this car, 'cos the guy who stole it for us is no longer on the payroll " Except I presume Travis Kalanick got/will get a few bob selling his stock to the next generation of 'respectable' investors..

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Uber is a different company today

          Well... yes, but that assumes the new monkeys learned from the old ones, and there was no effort to change ways. Uber claims that it's gone to great lengths to prevent exactly that from happening in this case.

          Please don't misunderstand, I have no time for Uber and have never registered with or used them. But imprecise, misguided or not-thought-through attacks tend to do more damage to the attackers than to the target, particularly if the target has the best legal, political and PR armour money can buy.

    2. hoola Silver badge

      Re: Uber is a different company today

      Even then, unless pretty much everyone in the management chain has been sacked and replaced after the new CEO, very little will change.

      Companies like this neve change, whatever politically correct spiel is spewed out. It is a fundamental cultural issue of these "disrupter companies" which loosely translates to "no regulation of any sort applies to us, anywhere in the world we choose to operate because we are new, funky, based on Tech with an App and our head office is in the US".

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Uber is a different company today

        If they'd changed, wouldn't they want to confess and pay the penalty for past failures ?

        The fact that they're wriggling shows that they haven't changed.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Dawn Raid Manual"

    If you work in a company that has that kind of manual, you urgently need to find a job somewhere else.

    Uber is the sewer of the business world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

      I was pondering who else would have a "Dawn Raid Manual". Instantly thought of drug cartels and scientology.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        > I was pondering who else would have a "Dawn Raid Manual"

        Anyone who has to simultaneously use Dawn dishwashing soap and Raid fly-spray, obviously. That’s all it was. Perfectly innocent.

      2. iron Silver badge

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        Off the top of my head Facebook / Meta, Palantir, maybe Google? Everyone that's evil basically.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

      Agreed. However, since they operated under the constant threat of regulation being dropped, I can see why they might want this.

      Uber was obviously a shit bag of a company in its early days (and may well still be) but they were operating in a lawless loophole.

      If a government decided to 180 and outright ban everything that Uber was doing, theirnprscrices would go from legal to illegal overnight which means data and information that was previously legal is now super illegal.

      A lot of countries essentially encourage this sort of system because of the way they implement new laws on a whim and retroactively apply them.

      I'm not trying to back up Uber here, but we really should condemn the way laws are passed in some places. As a lot of these dickhead lawmakers would say "think of the children".

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        they were operating in a lawless loophole

        If that were genuinely the situation, there could have been no successful legal case against them.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

          Unless lawmakers passed laws that made it illegal and applied it retroactively. Which happens all the time.

          You see lawmakers doing this in your face constantly. Take the Boris Johnson confidence vote for example. There weren't enough votes to oust him outright, so those that opposed him decided to push an agenda to change the rules. I don't know how far they got, because the clown resigned before any changes could take place...but it was there on the table.

          I can only assume that the push to regulate and fuck around with Uber was driven entirely by political folks wanting a slice of the pie. I have yet to meet anyone that is staunchly against Uber in any way.

          There are plenty of folks that won't use them for various reasons, but nobody that irrationally hates Uber simply for existing. I think most people, myself included, think that competition is a good thing and that public transport and mini cab firms have had a tight grip on transport for way too long. It used to be the case that if you went anywhere, there would only be two or three mini cab operators in a given area. Now on top of that there are various options available and pricing (at least in my area near Heathrow) has become a lot more competitive.

          That said, I have noted some subtle tactics that have been employed by the airport that might be there specifically to keep independent ride share drivers out of the competition.

          For example, it now costs £5 to drop a passenger off at T5 (it's all done via ANPR and works a bit like the congestion zone). Now my local mini cab firm has an agreement with the airport whereby they pay a flat annual fee regardless of the number of passengers they drop off. A sole independent Uber driver has no chance of getting a deal like this.

          Unless Uber has an agreement with T5 (which seems unlikely) then this would be a shady move, no?

          I mean your Addison Lee's and so on can strike a deal, but that one decent local mini cab firm operating out of a shed in a railway arch or even a friend you might have that works for Uber at night without telling anyone cannot compete.

          So yeah, Uber might well be shady, but that doesn't preclude everyone else around them being just as shady also.

          1. Lazlo Woodbine Silver badge

            Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

            The Conservative party rules on No Confidence votes in their leader are Conservative Party rules, not laws.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

              It doesn't matter, it was an example of how these people think and act...these people do the same thing with laws.

              If they can't win applying, clarifying and enforcing existing rules / laws they will invent very specific laws to the situation they want to win and apply them retroactively. They never think forwards, only backwards...hindsight is a wonderful thing, but proactive law / rule making is a lot more effective because it helps reduce problems before they occur...not retroactively.

              Imagine playing a football match where the ref has awarded your team two penalties and your team scored on both of them. You're now winning...say 2-1, but then in the 88th minute, based on the other team lobbying the FA, the rule suddenly change then the ref decides "nah, you know what, the rule that got those penalties was stupid, it should be X instead" then retroactively takes your two goals away. You've now lost the match 0-1, your fans are pissed off, the team is pissed off and the FA now looks like a bunch of cunts.

              In my view, this is exactly how our MPs and lawmakers typically work.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

                "and the FA now looks like a bunch of cunts.

                "

                What? Members of the Combined Union of Non-Theatrical Stagehands? Not unless they've paid their dues and are in good standing. (In the US it's the Federation of Allied Road Technicians.)

          2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

            Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

            > Unless lawmakers passed laws that made it illegal and applied it retroactively. Which happens all the time.

            >

            > You see lawmakers doing this in your face constantly. Take the Boris Johnson confidence vote for example. There weren't enough votes to oust him outright, so those that opposed him decided to push an agenda to change the rules. I don't know how far they got, because the clown resigned before any changes could take place...but it was there on the table.

            Honestly, that's a piss-poor example.

            Firstly, it's a convention of the Conservative's 1922 committee, not a a law.

            Secondly, there was no attempt to apply anything retrospectively - such a change would have affected things going forward (i.e. letting them call another vote).

            A retrospective change would be to change the rules to say something (for example, if more than 25% vote against) and then apply that to the *earlier vote and insist he stand down*.

            Thirdly, even it if were a law and not simply a Tory rule, Parliament is sovereign and no Parliament can constrain a future Parliament. What that means is that they can change law at any time with no requirement that they be constrained by what they decided previously. Without that freedom, Law cannot possibly evolve with the times.

            At best it's an example of how lawmakers can decide they don't like something and add new rules to prevent in in future. Problem is, that's the whole point in having lawmakers (as much as we might disagree with some of their changes).

            > I can only assume that the push to regulate and fuck around with Uber was driven entirely by political folks wanting a slice of the pie. I have yet to meet anyone that is staunchly against Uber in any way.

            No.

            The push against Uber was because existing businesses (cabs and taxi firms) have to operate within a legal framework that exists to ensure the safety of passengers and (to a lesser extent) the safety of others on the road.

            Uber skipped these requirements and so was able to undercut the competition, carrying passengers who didn't necessarily understand that the driver's insurance wouldn't cover them if there was an accident and they suffered life changing injuries.

            The fact that Uber didn't vet their drivers properly and more than a few turned around and raped their passengers didn't really help their case either.

            In *some* places, the existing body of law included stuff that was there to protect vested interests, but that's a minority of the places that Uber was operating, and the issues with Uber existed everywhere.

            I can't remember who said it, but there was a quote a while back along the lines of: if someone talks about disruptive innovation, you really need to first look at why the environment exists in a way that can be disrupted, sometimes there are very good reasons that regulation is in place.

            > There are plenty of folks that won't use them for various reasons, but nobody that irrationally hates Uber simply for existing

            I don't think there's anyone who hates Uber for simply existing. There are quite a few, though, who dislike them based on their history (which includes the stuff above).

            > Unless Uber has an agreement with T5 (which seems unlikely) then this would be a shady move, no?

            Not really, there's an administrative burden that goes with excluding from pricing.

            Uber would need to provide the license number of all their drivers to Heathrow in order to have the excluded from billing (it's unlikely the airport's going to shoulder the admin costs of simply being notified when a Uber driver is destined for Heathrow).

            > So yeah, Uber might well be shady, but that doesn't preclude everyone else around them being just as shady also.

            True, but that doesn't mean we should let Uber off the hook for being shady. It just means we need to work to ensure we're holding the others to account too.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

              "Secondly, there was no attempt to apply anything retrospectively - such a change would have affected things going forward (i.e. letting them call another vote)".

              You don't think they'd change the rules in a very specific way that would have been tailored to get Boris out? That's retroactive. They wouldn't be changing the rules in case Boris #2 comes along, they'd be changing the rules to change the outcome of performing the same thing twice. That requires hindsight which is retroactive. It's like doing the "ip dip" and ending up on the person you didn't want and saying "actually, I messed up, I'll do it again".

              Fucking dumb and peurile.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

            "Unless lawmakers passed laws that made it illegal and applied it retroactively. Which happens all the time."

            That's actually pretty rare, possibly never, in terms of making something illegal. In most civilised and democratic countries[*], new laws are not enacted overnight, they usually come with a significant notice period, especially if it's one which introduces a regulatory framework or change to a regulatory framework, so that those businesses affected have time to adapt to it. The few laws which may be retroactively are usually laws with make some legal that was previously illegal and occasionally people previously criminalised in the past may be pardoned.

            [*] I suppose I should exclude much of the US in light of the "trigger laws" abruptly enacted by the Roe V Wade decision. But even there, the laws were well publicised in advance such that people and organisations where aware of what might happen and have contingency plans in place. Even those laws neither came out of the blue nor are retroactive (so far as I'm aware)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

              >That's actually pretty rare, possibly never, in terms of making something illegal. In most civilised and democratic countries

              Its against Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Although at least one of the candidates for next PM of the UK has announced they intend to withdraw from that - although how they'll do that when it underpins both the Good Friday Agreement, the TCA with the EU and the Devolution Agreements is a more complex question.

            2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

              If you want a retroactive law in the US, checkout the 1993 tax hike. Passed after president Clinton assumed office, it took effect 1/1. Of course, for some strange reason Her Royal Clinton just happened to have asked to be paid for some of her 1993 "work" for some law firm in 1992--a request that was granted.

              Yes, our written constitution has a clause against that. Constitutions are only worth the people who enforce them.

            3. veti Silver badge

              Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

              Every "windfall tax" is a retroactive law change.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

                That's a very good point. Yes, in effect it's retroactively raising tax thresholds/rates. Thanks!

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

              It happens a few times a year at least...usually when a new law is found to be too aggressive or not specific enough. Usually, you'll see compensation involved and some MP coming out a grovelling. Retroactive law making isn't always a bad thing, but in the case of business law...it's always a bad thing.

              https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06454/SN06454.pdf

              The government even has a document about it.

      2. Kane Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        "theirnprscrices"

        Having a bit of a covfefe?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        In France, a Prefet (local official supervising a region) tried to apply the law to Uber, and promptly got a call from Manu Macron after Uber complained...

        MM can say what he wants, if he didn't get anything from Uber for his medling with French laws, he is either very stupid (*) or has not yet been paid.

        (*) considering that he sold to General Electric a company for €500 M, and bought back a few years later a loss-making part of that company for €1000 M, some people may have a definite opinion on the subject.

    3. UrethralAnts

      Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

      Not really, that kind of response is quite normal. Competition authorities in a retail setting, for example, do "Dawn Raids" - but they're only called that - they rock up during business hours...

      Contacting legal teams and permanently shadowing the inspectors until they are done is a reasonable response.

      The rest of Ubers stuff isn't normal though that's definitely illegal...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        Dawn Raids is innocent!

        She never dun nuffick mate!

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        "Contacting legal teams and permanently shadowing the inspectors until they are done is a reasonable response."

        Whatever opinion you hold about former President Trump, the FBI raid where they excluded his attorney and asked that the CCTV be shut off should cause people to worry. Coppers aren't known for being subtle and would rather wait 30 minutes for bolt cutters than to ask for a key to a lock from somebody on the premises. Take the TSA for example, they'll cut off a TSA lock rather than jiggle the key a bit to get it to work. I have to wonder if they have a deal going with the baggage thieves, oh pardon me, baggage handlers to make sure a certain percentage of suitcases don't have a lock.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

      Actually any multi-national company with serious compliance needs (Banks, Pharma, ...) or competent in-house lawyers will have such a manual. They are less sinister than what they sound, outlining responsibilities and roles of different people in case of an unannounced visit from the authorities.

      But hey this boring stuff doesn't make for IT comedy.

      Full disclosure: I have some experience with dawn raids at customers, and yes the FTSE 100 company I work for has one in multiple languages.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        Actually any multi-national company with serious compliance issues (Banks, Pharma, ...)

        ftfy

      2. OhForF'

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        Does your companies manual although include advice to distract the authorities while (access to) evidence is destructed?

      3. Howard Sway Silver badge

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        It's true that they have documented policies in place for such events. They don't tend to recommend criminal obstruction, lies and "oh, the system has mysteriously stopped working" as a policy though.

        Nor do executive boards generally encourage violence as a route to success, if they want to stay out of prison.

        Kalanick left with $2.5 billion as a reward for all this. In a just world he would lose the lot and find himself with a glamorous new role in a prison workshop.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

          Most of your post is accurate, but I think you misunderstood one part:

          "Nor do executive boards generally encourage violence as a route to success, if they want to stay out of prison."

          They weren't encouraging violence. They were predicting violence to be committed by someone else as something they could use to gain sympathy. You decide whether that violence, committed by people who didn't like Uber, was something Uber could have prevented. Short of shutting down their business so the violent people wouldn't have any targets, I'm not sure they had an option. Their PR department's description of what they would do is certainly heartless, but it was a reaction to something done by others, not any encouragement by them directly.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

            Well no, the specific allegation is that Kalanick suggested sending Uber drivers into dangerous situations in the hope that there would be violence directed against them. That is encouraging violence.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

              I haven't read the files, but the article does not mention that. It only mentions that violence was expected and that some people thought it would end up helping the company. That's bad enough, but it's still a far cry from setting it up, and if the message said to deliberately cause it, I'd imagine the article would have said that. I'll see if I can find more text elsewhere to verify this, but so far, I still see only the PR angle to violence from others.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        "Actually any multi-national company with serious compliance needs (Banks, Pharma, ...) or competent in-house lawyers will have such a manual. They are less sinister than what they sound, outlining responsibilities and roles of different people in case of an unannounced visit from the authorities."

        Those manuals do make a bunch of sense. You don't want people below a certain level to say anything to the raiders at all beyond asking if they would like a coffee, if that. The company doesn't want anybody talking with authorities without a lawyer present that should understand what the warrant/subpoena actually covers.

        If the manual outlines procedures for hiding or deleting something being sought, the manual could be read out as evidence at a trial. If nothing is found that should be there and there is a policy of a "kill switch", that might be a huge problem for a company.

        A "transfer" switch might be necessary to implement if the filth is going to shut systems down and randomly grab computers and such. They don't generally explain what they are planning to do before they do it so precautions are prudent.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

      You've got to wonder what kind of employee would be so stupid to actually follow those directions and set himself up for an obstruction charge.

      There's no way I'm hiring anyone who's worked note than a couple of weeks for this mafia.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

        "You've got to wonder what kind of employee would be so stupid to actually follow those directions and set himself up for an obstruction charge."

        That assumes that the employee knows what's going on. It might be in the manual as a way to reroute traffic for an anticipated service. If fact, it's much better that the person only knows that when they are instructed to do the task, they do it immediately to prevent bad things from happening. If they happened to be unhappy with the company, they might delay in hitting the kill switch just to watch the company burn.

        In a big company lots of things are just procedures that an employee is taught to do without understanding why. If the word comes down that you should execute a program according to the outline in a 3-ring binder, you grab the binder and do it. A sufficiently junior person doesn't increase their standing by asking too many questions. I expect that somebody will call said junior person to double check they did it.

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

          Drones might do that. Thinking people might just wonder why they're killing access to systems when the police just came onsite. As far as I'm concerned, the minute the cops walk into the workplace I'm not touching a thing, entering a command, pushing a button, ect. I AM handing over to the cops any manuals given to me outlining a company requirement to kill systems though. No company pays me enough risk prison for them, and I will always fully cooperate with the police at the workplace. My life has a finite span of time and I'm not spending it behind bars for some corporation.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: "Dawn Raid Manual"

            "the minute the cops walk into the workplace I'm not touching a thing, entering a command, pushing a button, ect."

            This setup says they hit the switch remotely. I expect they figured that you'd not be in a position to do anything or too scared you'd be caught doing it if you suspected why you were instructed to do a particular task.

  4. Surrey Veteran

    Obviously whoever got the idea of the Kill Button is not a reader of the Who Me? column on The Reg ......

    1. Tim99 Silver badge

      Or the BOFH, but then the Kill Button would probably be a bit more literal.

  5. Cederic Silver badge

    I told you!

    I told you they were evil! I said it back then, and never became a customer as a result. Finally I am vindicated, and they will.. retire in luxury to their Caribbean islands.

    There's no justice :(

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: I told you!

      I agree with Cederic. It truly is the end of days.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So...

    1. When will Uber's operating licences across the EU be suspended?

    2. When do the extraditions of exec's to the EU begin?

    3. I assume the UK police are already investigating Uber's shenanigans in the UK; hence why the journalist are being good citizens and not publishing anything...

    1. Eguro
      Devil

      Re: So...

      Not all UK publications are stuffed with great citizens it would seem:

      https://www.theguardian.com/news/2022/jul/10/uber-files-leak-reveals-global-lobbying-campaign

      https://www.theregister.com/2022/07/11/uber_leak/

      https://www.bbc.com/news/business-62057321

      Even here:

      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11001327/Uber-met-George-Osborne-Matt-Hancock-Michael-Gove-leak-124-000-emails-texts-reveals.html

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        The BBC may have been waiting for official responses from Government departments. Their article:

        https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62099061

        claims several meetings between Uber representatives and ministers took place, and each has a response from the article, mostly along the lines of "there is no record of the meeting taking place." It's worth reading in full.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So...

        ".../Uber-met-George-Osborne-Matt-Hancock-Michael-Gove-leak..."

        Nuff said!

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: So...

          Is there any law against ministers meeting with execs of major companies? (Or minor ones, for that matter?)

          I hate being forced into the position of seeming to defend Uber, but seriously - if people are going to throw words like "criminal conspiracy" around, I wish they would be a little more focused in what they're complaining about.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: So...

            "Is there any law against ministers meeting with execs of major companies? (Or minor ones, for that matter?)"

            Not at all, but ministers are required to keep a diary of their appointments and should make some notes to CTA. When "no such meeting has taken place" and it's widely known that it did, that causes talk.

    2. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: So...

      Ah, the taxi cartel astroturfers are back, I see.

    3. Stork Silver badge

      Re: So...

      1. In Denmark they gave up. Authorities said "sure, you can operate, but this is a taxi service which has to follow taxi regulations. Including meters and weight sensor in seats. And be sure to pay your taxes too."

      2. Extraditions are country specific.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: So...

        >2. Extraditions are country specific.

        So potentially 27 extradition requests per suspect - I'm excluding the UK, as the Conservatives will want to sweep it all under the carpet, just like the lockdown parties...

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: So...

      "hence why the journalist are being good citizens and not publishing anything..."

      A good check would be to see if Uber holds any ownership position in the media companies and to what extent.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well who would have thunk it

    Politicians taking the Judas silver.

    Wow, how the world has changed since my youth, when politicians only locked up people they didn’t like and took huge bribes from political lobbyists for oil and drugs and anything else you could think off.

    The world of politics is about self nothing else.

    Funny how you can be randomly selected to judge a persons guilt and change the course of their lives, yet you have to be picked by rich people to fake represent poor people so the rich remain rich.

    Wow

  8. Ashto5

    UBER revolutionised Taxis

    UBER revolutionised taxis

    But now with dynamic pricing you just get screwed by a different group.

    1. Jedit Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: UBER revolutionised Taxis

      Yeah, before Uber there was a solid chance that my taxi driver knew where he was going.

      1. Boo Radley

        Re: UBER revolutionised Taxis

        Yeah, most Uber drivers have no clue where anything is or how to get there without the app telling them. I've been a taxi (black car) driver for years, and with the rare exception in a different town, I can count my use of GPS on one hand. I've never used GPS to get a customer to his destination, if I must, I'll look at it before pickup, but I feel it gives the customer a lack of confidence in me if I have to use it to get him where he's going. When I started this job, I didn't have GPS at all, no smartphone, only a paper map that I quickly, for the most part, memorized. That, plus watching the street names as I went to different destinations,combined with a great memory, was all I ever needed.

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: UBER revolutionised Taxis

          Yep In all the black cabs I caught since 'lockdown one' and the end of all restrictions there had been a seal on the cash payment hole. All the cabbies were wearing masks and quite a few had hand sanitser in the back for customers to use. One told me that she cleaned all the touch points and the seats in between jobs. I also had a window open to reduce chances further and was always wearing a mask. One of my colleagues stopped using Uber during the pandemic because she felt she was just sharing a car with a stranger. Albeit a car driven by a masked stranger which also didn't help with her fears.

          A friend ordered an Uber from a drinks evening we'd been at in South Kensington despite there being a plethora of Licensed London Black Cabs. Up pulled a car a few minutes later we both got in and noticed that this wasn't going to be the most luxurious ride we'd ever had. The car made a Black cab look like a Rolls Royce. Then we headed off and the driver was totally relying on sat nav for his directions which always worries me. My friend says she needs to give instructions on getting to her place as it's surrounded by a relatively new one way system and difficult to reach.

          The driver didn't speak amazing English but just pointed at the sat nav when she asked him to turn left or right. After he missed the crucial turning for the second time she said "Just drop us here please" and we got out. She also said there are quicker routes of getting to her place than the route he took and he clearly either didn't know them, or his sat nav didn't.

          I won't use Uber because I don't like the fact that they wanted to track the movement of every user even if they weren't using the app. Greyball (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greyball) etc. Also anyone who can pass The Knowledge is better than me at remembering stuff and has earned some respect for that. They also know the best routes and problems on the roads. My Black Cab driver this evening for example took a round about route to get me to my destination. When I enquired about the route he said it was because of roadworks on one road, another closed and a third blocked by a lorry. Walking back I checked this and he was spot on.

    2. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: UBER revolutionised Taxis

      "UBER revolutionised taxis"

      FakeTaxi did more to revolutionise taxis than Uber did.

  9. aerogems Silver badge
    Facepalm

    That doesn't scream "criminal conspiracy" or anything

    I mean... unless you KNOW you're doing something illegal, why would you even need a policy like this?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That doesn't scream "criminal conspiracy" or anything

      And as some of the others have commented, while companies should have a planned response, the details of the plan here amount to crimes themselves.

      So restating your comment:

      "If your companies plan for dealing with the arrival of criminal investigators involves committing criminal actions, the investigators are probably on the right track. Think long and hard, as they probably want you to take a legal bullet for them, and will throw you under the bus promptly thereafter then deny everything"

      Seems like the smartest move would be to quit while your ahead, but failing that, I'd save everything as evidence for a rainy day, and then I could leak it if I had too... oh wait. :-)

  10. teknopaul Silver badge

    Man those guys are crooks

    Mad to think 10% are still working and not behind bars.

    Happy I live in a place that kicked the buggers out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Man those guys are crooks

      <joke> That 10% would be the highest-level management; the rest left due to high levels of routine turnover.

  11. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Le Taxi

    Because of the Macron link I think I should issue a cautionary warning. Le Taxi is French police slang for a police truck where they put people they don't like and beat them up.

    I had the temerity to complain at a Ryanair desk about Ryanair causing me to miss a Ryanair flight, and the dastards went and called the cops on me. A rotund, uniformed pensioner pulled a gun on me for reasons beyond my ken, and said he was going to call me a taxi. It didn't sound like much of a threat but I only got a B in my French O Grade. Some Arab French guy rescued me and explained it. Say what you will about Arabic French but they know fine well the police vernacular.

    Second tip: never, ever enter a queue in France that has a British/American flag on it - it's a trap!

    TL;DR - If a French cop mentions the word taxi then call your own taxi and flee.

    Joe le Taxi

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ride-app as a stand alone service would be a sustainable model

    The taxi business was never, ever a gold mine. It's always been a razor thin profit margin business (< 5% profit margin, typical for the transportation industry) operating out of dingy garages

    The ride-app tech is a welcome improvement, especially because it enables efficient ride-sharing, but the strategy to leverage that tech to monopolize the taxi business, and expect to get tech-type profit margins of 20-50% is completely unrealistic and a failure - Uber continues to be anti-profitable. However, due to an excess of investment capital and its "tech" label, Uber is one of those companies that continually accumulated huge capital - it's total assets (38 billion 2021 Y/E) are more than twice what they were 4 years earlier (15 billion 2017 Y/E).

    In a more business realistic universe, the ride-app tech company(s) would concentrate on the tech alone and provide a service to the taxi companies/drivers, avoiding all the lobbying costs and overhead of micro-managing the taxi end of the business. Such a tech-heavy business would have tech-like profit margins, but it would also have a much smaller revenue base. Therefore there is no way for Uber to move to that model without collapsing into black hole. But if/when Uber collapses, something more realistic might emerge.

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: ride-app as a stand alone service would be a sustainable model

      This has already happened. Our local biggest cab firm uses Autocab. Basically it's a white-labelled hailing app and schedule service. The app is branded with the cab firm's logo. So i guess many independent firms are replicating the Uber experience without being Uber.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: ride-app as a stand alone service would be a sustainable model

        It's the whole App thing that bothers me. I'd rather look up the number of a local taxi company, have them send a driver to pick me up and pay cash. I'm even going to lie about my name.

  13. TimMaher Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Panorama

    Just watched it.

    Uber are even bigger shits than I thought.

    Used them once... never again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Panorama

      Remember Uber are probably just the poster child for what some in the USA would regard as business as usual...

  14. Mobster

    That something like the business Uber is in a good thing, and inevitable really, is more or less a given. The efficiencies gained (price reduction, driver freedom regarding hours etc.) were bound to happen.

    That such a momentous occasion had to have criminals that ran Uber at the helm is what makes me sad. There was an opportunity here to create a revolution and become heroes, but Uber, like many others, became too greedy. The politicians, of course, acted like they always do, no surprise or sadness there.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      price reduction, driver freedom regarding hours

      These are surely to be grouped in the set of {Things that sound virtuous if you don't look too closely}

      Price reduction is another way of saying drivers have to do more journeys, work longer hours and/or cut corners/take risks to make a living. Freedom regarding hours is a nonsense, since they already have that, but actually have to work more of them (see above) to make living.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a rule

    I don’t engage with criminal activities

  16. john.w

    Why bother with a kill switch

    They were simpler days, the mid 90's, our small company was raided by FAST following a tip off from a disgruntled ex employee. Plenty of windows machines in the lab and offices with software that might not have had a full set of licences but they only searched C: drives and we kept all the application software on the D:

    Only thing found was as dodgy copy of Flight Sim on the CEO's PC, much to the relief of engineers and middle management.

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