Is Uber The New SPECTRE?

In Ian Fleming’s series of spy novels, his English hero James Bond battles a new kind of threat to the United Kingdom, and perhaps the world:  A smart, technology adept, centrally controlled, global criminal organization, SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). Their global members wear the network’s octopus symbol and follow the instructions of a cat-loving mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

In 2010, a new organization, UBER came on the scene in San Francisco, defying authorities and actually publicly vowing to break any laws it wanted to. In the years following, a series of criminal investigations and press reports revealed a systemically corrupt organization that battled authorities around the world, abused their employees, cheated their drivers, and spied on competitors,  government officials and customers. Even now, Uber is under at least 5 Federal investigations of criminal wrongdoing and faces hundreds of lawsuits from employees, customers and competitors. It has been accused of infiltrating authorities in India, bribing regulators in Indonesia, lying to regulators in London, and bamboozling drivers worldwide to make bad personal investments to fund Uber’s growth. In France, their managers were arrested for operating illegally and hiding documents. Hardly a month or two goes by without another unethical or potentially criminal act being uncovered.

Towards the end of 2017, web author Kevin Kashman began compiling a rap sheet of criminal and ethical charges against Uber around the world. This is what he published:

These are scandals that involve Uber’s aggressive political lobbying and the tactics it uses to expand its business.

 

Uber often causes and exacerbates social problems, many of which have significant costs or far-ranging implications.

Uber’s collection and monitoring of data are integral to its operations. The absence of (or lax enforcement of) rules regarding the access and use of sensitive data, as well as the illegal collection of data and use of certain data tools, has led to a number of scandals.

Arguably the area where Uber gets the most attention is its corporate culture. Uber has created a culture dominated by sexism and as well as a growth-at-any-cost mentality.

 

Passengers are greatly affected by Uber’s mismanagement; most significantly, from safety and access issues. Uber has consistently failed to proactively address potential impacts to its passengers and has often been negligent after incidents occur (and had little in the way of due process).

 

Driver Issues (15 entries)

An inadequate supply of drivers is a severe bottleneck in Uber’s growth, which its business model is predicated on. Thus, Uber focuses intently on the recruitment and retention of drivers, as well as the dedication of drivers to its platform. At the same time, Uber wants to limit its drivers’ compensation because it is not a profitable business. Thus, Uber misrepresents itself in various ways to entice drivers to sign up and be tied to the service, but also consistently squeezes drivers, giving them a smaller and smaller piece of fares. This is possible because Uber controls the rules of its platform. Uber also does not generally vet drivers adequately and pushes for the deprofessionalization of the occupation, likely to increase the number of potential drivers.


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