Uber have been forced to apologise once again after leaked files reveal that the ride-hailing giant courted top politicians to push its $90m-a-year lobbying and public relations efforts.
The Uber Files, which contain 124,000 records from 2013 to 2017, show how the firm recruited political big dogs, including French President Emmanuel Macron and ex-EU commissioner Neelie Kroes, to help its growth in European markets.
The dossier revealed that Macron was on first name terms with Uber’s founder Travis Kalanick, met at least four times, and crucially signed off a decree relaxing requirements for licensing Uber drivers: a move that was particularly controversial in France’s previously closed-shop taxi sector and culture where workers’ rights are supreme.
A spokesperson for Mr Macron said in an email to the BBC: “His functions naturally led him to meet and interact with many companies engaged in the sharp shift which came out during those years in the service sector, which had to be facilitated by unlocking administrative and regulatory hurdles.”
Uber is no stranger to scandal, having faced everything from employment right court cases, allegations of sexual harassment, and data breach accusations.
In a statement about the files, Uber said: “We have not and will not make excuses for past behaviour that is clearly not in line with our present values. Instead, we ask the public to judge us by what we’ve done over the last five years and what we will do in the years to come.”
Uber said it has been transformed since Kalanick was ousted in 2017, and replaced by Dara Khosrowshahi.
The firm said Khosrowshahi “installed the rigorous controls and compliance necessary to operate as a public company”.
Paris ranks as the second most popular European city for Uber users in 2021, just behind Lisbon.
The files were leaked to the Guardian, and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and BBC Panorama.