The “Jacobs letter”, a 37-page letter to the management of the ride sharing app Uber by former security team member Ric Jacobs detailing many instances of shady or illegal behavior the company has allegedly been involved in, has just had more of its contents released to the public, and the situation seems to be much worse than anyone could have thought.
The Verge reports on the redacted document. In addition to the details released last month, reporting on Uber’s alleged theft of trade secrets and surveillance of competitors, as well as self-destructing messages between employees and deliberate attempted to prevent government regulation from touching the business, it is now being reported that Uber’s supposed actions have gone from merely unsavory to downright criminal.
These details come as a result of the ongoing case between Uber and Waymo, a self-driving car company and subsidiary of Alphabet. In the letter, which is being used as evidence in court, Jacobs claims that Uber via its Strategic Services Group would regularly be “engaged in fraud and theft, and employed third-party vendors to obtain unauthorized data or information,” as well as hack into the computer networks of competitors and destroy evidence that they did so. He also says that Travis Kalanick, then CEO of Uber, knew about all of this.
He also says that Nicholas Gicinto, another person who worked for the company alongside SSG, would deliberately impersonator protesters of the company, as well as partner-drivers and taxi operators, using computers not bought by Uber directly and various other means of hiding their identities while doing so. Furthermore, their surveillance extended far beyond just competitors, into, as Jacobs claims, “politicians, regulators, law enforcement, taxi organizations, and labor unions.”
Finally, Jacobs also claims that the company’s Marketplace Analytics team was charged with stealing trade secrets and other information from competitors, which they did by impersonating, drivers and passengers for these other companies while hacking their computer networks and conducting unlawful wiretapping of their phones.
Should these claims turn out to be true, it could spell very dark days ahead for the company and its leadership, past and present. While Uber claims that Jacobs is merely looking for money, Judge William Alsup says this is an unfounded accusation on the company’s part.
While Jacobs has contradicted some parts of his letter, he claims this is only because he was unable to read the exact wording of it before his legal team gave it to Uber. Otherwise, the majority of what is written there is seemingly true. If so, Uber may have a lot to answer for soon.