A letter from a former Uber employee was made public on Friday that alleges Uber “fraudulently impersonates riders and drivers on competitor platforms, hacks into competitor networks, and conducts unlawful wiretapping.”
Richard Jacobs, who worked as Uber’s manager of global intelligence claims that he was “unlawfully demoted” and later fired by Uber in April this year. Jacob’s allegations against them were written in a letter (Jacobs letter) by his lawyer.
The letter also includes extensive details about a secret group within the ride-hailing company that was set to spy on competitors, hack in their systems and steal their business secrets and was also involved in other unlawful activities. He accused Uber’s security officers of “hacking” and “destruction of evidence related to eavesdropping against opposition groups.”
Jacobs’ lawyer charged that Uber’s secretive Strategic Services Group (SSG) “frequently engaged in fraud and theft, and employed third-party vendors to obtain unauthorized data or information.”
Most of the activities detailed in the letter relayed to then CEO Travis Kalanick, who resigned in June following an investigation carried out in the company.
Jacobs letter came to light as part of the lawsuit Waymo filed against Uber over self-driving technology. Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo in February accused of stealing their trade secrets.
Uber spokesperson said that the company has not validated all the claims yet.
“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.”
While a Waymo spokesperson said, “Separate and apart from the letter, Waymo has accumulated significant evidence that Uber is using stolen Waymo trade secrets, including copying aspects of Waymo’s LiDAR designs down to the micron, and we look forward to trial.”
Basically, it all started with Anthony Lewandowski, a former Google employee, who allegedly stole some 14,000 documents from Google’s parent company Alphabet and traded them to Uber. Lewandowski left Google to start his own company “Otto” which was later acquired by Uber. He was later fired by them in May.
Waymo wants Uber’s self-driving car program to curtail, which according to Waymo uses its technology. Damages at nearly $1.9 billion had been estimated by Waymo so far.