Over 100,000 leaked documents revealed the secret relationship of the ride-hailing giant Uber with some of Europe’s top politicians, including French President Emmanuel Macron while he served as economy minister.
More than 124,000 documents covering more than 83,000 emails from 2013 to 2017 show that controversial former Uber chief Travis Kalanick was on a first-name basis with Macron as the company sought to launch operations in France, a move that sparked widespread violent protests by the country’s taxi companies and drivers, according to reporting by the BBC, which obtained the leaked documents.
The two met for the first time in October 2014, shortly after Macron was appointed economy minister, to discuss the launch of Uber in the country. Macron saw Uber as a potential new source of jobs and was enthusiastic about helping the company, soon becoming one of Uber’s most trusted champions within the French government.
The first meeting was summarized by Uber lobbyist Mark MacGann in an email, who said the conversation was Uber lobbyist Mark MacGann described the meeting as “spectacular. Like I’ve never seen,” adding that “we will let’s dance soon”.
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The meeting was one of at least four Macron has had with Kalanick as the company struggles to gain ground in France, sparking controversy with its UberPop service that allowed unlicensed drivers to offer rides at low prices.
Violent protests erupted over the service as courts and parliament banned it, but Macron continued to work with Uber in an effort to pass new laws that would be friendly to the ride-sharing company.
“Uber will provide an outline for a regulatory framework for ride sharing. We will connect our respective teams to begin work on a possible proposal that could become the formal framework in France,” Kalanick wrote in an email to Macron. .
“[I] will gather everyone next week to prepare the reform and correct the law,” Macron later texted Kalanick.
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UberPop was suspended in France on the same day, but a few months later, Macron signed a decree easing licensing requirements for Uber drivers.
Another email from Uber to Macron told the future president that the company was “extremely grateful” for his help, saying “the openness and welcome we receive is unusual in government-industry relations.”
“His duties naturally led him to meet and interact with many companies involved in the sharp change that came during those years in the service sector, which had to be facilitated by unlocking administrative and regulatory barriers,” a Macron spokesman said. for the BBC.
The documents also show the lengths Uber was willing to go to avoid regulators, including a kill switch that would have locked police out of the company’s computers if one of its buildings was raided by law enforcement.
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Kalanick was eventually forced out by shareholders in 2017, and the company has since tried to distance itself from its previous way of doing business, telling the BBC that its “past behavior was inconsistent with its current values ” and is “different. company” today.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Kalanick’s replacement, has since been charged with transforming every aspect of how Uber operates” and has “installed the rigorous controls and compliance necessary to operate as a public company.”
Kalanick has denied taking any action to obstruct justice anywhere, with a spokesperson telling the BBC that Uber “used tools that protect the intellectual property and privacy of their customers” and that “these secure protocols do not delete any provided or information. , and were approved by Uber’s legal and regulatory departments.”