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Showing posts with label Taxi Leaks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Taxi Leaks. Show all posts

22 November 2017

FOI reveals Transport for London repeatedly renewed £2m consultancy contract over 7 years without getting rival bids

Transport for London has defended the repeated extension of a consultancy contract worth almost £2m over a seven year period without asking rivals to tender for the work.

In October 2010 the capital’s transport agency hired the contractor to provide a staff member who would “assist the TfL senior leadership team” during their work on the Horizon programme which was tasked to slash costs in TfL’s support functions. 

The initial contract was worth £122,980 and covered “targeted senior executive leadership facilitation, support and coaching for the TfL leadership team, including the Commissioner and the Chief Officers.”

TfL says the work was awarded following “a search of the market,” however the relationship has been extended several times over the following seven years, each time without alternative suppliers being asked to tender. 

Each of the renewals was approved following the production of a ‘single source request’ document which self-exempts public bodies from tendering contracts.

The first extension came in February 2011, just 4 months after the initial agreement was signed, with further extensions in August and October of the same year.

The document approving the second extension justifies the failure to openly tender the work on the grounds that other suppliers “would not have the existing knowledge of TfL, the Horizon programme, the expertise and familiarity or trusting relationship with the individual Directors in the Leadership team.”

In August 2012 an uncontested extension worth £250,000 was approved on the grounds that “a decision to put this activity out for tender would inevitably have postponed the delivery of Project Horizon”.

The document added that proceeding without the support of an external contractor “would have meant progressing Project Horizon without effectively organising or coordinating Chief Officer input, leading to a sub-optimal conclusion and/or delay to the project.”

Eleven months later TfL justified a decision not to put a further extension, worth £162,000, out to tender “as it may result in a loss of continuity in the development of individuals”.

The relevant approval document also states that the additional work being approved was “needed to provide the continuous support that is required by the Commissioner.”

An extension worth £175,500 was signed off in October 2014 to allow the contractor “to assist the Commissioner direct and develop an effective TfL leadership team and to support the team so that he can lead TfL effectively.”

It also justified the decision not to tender the work on the grounds that “it may result in a loss of continuity in the development of individuals”.

Further extensions followed July 2015, March 2016, October 2016, March 2017 and, most recently, in October 2017.

A freedom of information request shows that over the seven year period to October 2017 the contractor was paid £1.74m. The latest extension is worth a further £210,000.

The services provided span the terms of former TfL Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and successor Mike Brown. TfL’s top post comes with a salary in excess of £300,000 and a host of in-house support staff. 

Defending the consultancy contract, a TfL spokesperson said the contractor in question “has provided advice and support to the TfL leadership team for a number of major organisational change programmes to deliver a range of improvements and significant financial savings.  

“The current programme is delivering £4bn of savings to 2021/22, reducing our operating costs for the first time in our history.”   

However Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said the agency’s decision to repeatedly roll over the contract uncontested “for so many years raises some fundamental questions about TfL’s transparency, let alone its commitment to value for money.” 

She added: “Contracts such as this should be open for examination and regularly put out to tender.”

The most recent renewals appear to undermine efforts by Mayor Sadiq Khan to slash costs within TfL in order to help fund his freeze fares and meet the challenges posed by the axing of TfL’s Government grants.

Last year Mr Khan ordered the agency to carry out “a fundamental review” of management layers, renegotiate all contracts, freeze recruitment “for all but the most essential roles” while “significantly cutting the most expensive of the existing circa 3,000 agency contractors.”

Commenting on the FOI’s revelations, Labour AM Tom Copley said: “We’ve had a commitment from the Mayor to reducing consultancy costs, TfL must now follow through. 

“At a time when TfL are having to tighten their purse strings because the government are removing their operational grant, it begs the question whether this is value for money.”

Source : MayorWatch.co.uk



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Institute Of Licensing Writes To Government To Highlight Failure In Taxi And PH Licensing System


The Institute of Licensing (IoL) has written to the Government to raise concerns about failings in the taxi and private hire licensing system that is putting public safety at risk.

IoL President, James Button, said in the letter: 
“We are aware that there is currently much discussion ongoing in relation to the licensing of taxi and private hire drivers, operators and vehicle owners, including the recently established working party by Minister of State John Hayes MP. 

We are conscious that any discussions must seriously consider the adequacies of current arrangements concerning criminality checks, data sharing and ability of licensing authorities and police practitioners to identify concerns relating to licensed individuals and those seeking to be licensed with a view to maintaining public safety and taking appropriate action as necessary.”

The letter addressed to the Home Office, DfT, National Police Chiefs Council and the chairman of the newly established Taxi and Private Hire Working Group, outlined the result of its member’s survey about the level of checks undertaken, data sharing with the police and other similar issues:
• Less than 25% of respondents consider the current data sharing arrangements are satisfactory

• More than 50% of respondents agreed that changes to the Notifiable Occupations Scheme affected information sharing between police and licensing authorities

• 72% of respondents said that do not receive immediate notifications from the police when a taxi licensee (driver, operator or proprietor) is under investigation, arrested or charged

• 42% of respondents said that the Data Protection Act used as a reason for not sharing information

• A substantial 80% of respondents agreed it would useful would it be to have a single point of contact within the police for taxi licensing issues
Mr Button continued: “The IoL has raised concerns previously with the Home Office in relation to data sharing between police and licensing authorities in relation to taxis. 

In March 2015, we put on record with the Home Office our concern over the then imminent changes to the Notifiable Occupations Scheme and the proposed removal of Home Office Circular 006/2006 which provided guidance to police forces about the disclosure of convictions and other information in relation to people in professions or occupations which carry additional trust or responsibility (notifiable occupations). 

In summary, the concern at that point was that the changes would increase uncertainty and inconsistency in data sharing.”

The IoL is currently leading on a project to develop a national model convictions policy for licensing authorities to consider adopting locally. It has been working with the Local Government Association and the National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers on the project and the aim is to consult on the draft document imminently. 

This project has been undertaken with the sole purpose of providing a potential national minimum standard endorsed by the relevant organisations with a view to raising consistency across England and Wales.

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT:
Meanwhile, in London, TfL are still allowing 10,000 Uber drivers with alleged fake DBS certificates to carry on working, even in the light of an escalation in PH passenger sexual assaults (highest total for 15 years) 

Not only that, 5 Uber drivers convicted of fraud have been allowed to carry on as PH drivers even after being given suspended prison sentences.
 
TfL have refused to relicense Uber as a PH operator, but allow them to continue for the next few years while they appeal, even though they have been flagged up as a not fit and proper company. 
Can you see the pattern emerging here?

And yet a Licensed Taxi Driver who video’d a group of TfL directors in a public Street has had his licence revoked and been out of work for nearly a year. 



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21 November 2017

Uber Concealed Cyberattack That Exposed 57 Million People’s Data



Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing company ousted Joe Sullivan, chief security officer, and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps.

Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers were accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card details, trip location info or other data were taken, Uber said.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it.”

At the time of the incident, Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulators investigating separate claims of privacy violations. Uber now says it had a legal obligation to report the hack to regulators and to drivers whose license numbers were taken. Instead, the company paid hackers $100,000 to delete the data and keep the breach quiet. Uber said it believes the information was never used but declined to disclose the identities of the attackers.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as chief executive officer in September, said in an emailed statement. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Read more: Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning

Hackers have successfully infiltrated numerous companies in recent years. The Uber breach, while large, is dwarfed by those at Yahoo, MySpace, Target Corp., Anthem Inc.and Equifax Inc. What’s more alarming are the extreme measures Uber took to hide the attack. The breach is the latest explosive scandal Khosrowshahi inherits from his predecessor, Travis Kalanick.

Kalanick, Uber’s co-founder and former CEO, learned of the hack in November 2016, a month after it took place, the company said. Uber had just settled a lawsuit with the New York attorney general over data security disclosures and was in the process of negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission over the handling of consumer data. Kalanick declined to comment on the hack.

Sullivan spearheaded the response to the hack last year, a spokesman told Bloomberg. Sullivan, a onetime federal prosecutor who joined Uber in 2015 from Facebook Inc., has been at the center of much of the decision-making that has come back to bite Uber this year. Bloomberg reported last month that the board commissioned an investigation into the activities of Sullivan’s security team. This project, conducted by an outside law firm, discovered the hack and the failure to disclose, Uber said.

Here’s how the hack went down: 

Two attackers accessed a private GitHub coding site used by Uber software engineers and then used login credentials they obtained there to access data stored on an Amazon Web Services account that handled computing tasks for the company. From there, the hackers discovered an archive of rider and driver information. Later, they emailed Uber asking for money, according to the company.

A patchwork of state and federal laws require companies to alert people and government agencies when sensitive data breaches occur. Uber said it was obligated to report the hack of driver’s license information and failed to do so.

“At the time of the incident, we took immediate steps to secure the data and shut down further unauthorized access by the individuals,” Khosrowshahi said. “We also implemented security measures to restrict access to and strengthen controls on our cloud-based storage accounts.”

Uber has earned a reputation for flouting regulations in areas where it has operated since its founding in 2009. The U.S. has opened at least five criminal probes into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property, people familiar with the matters have said. The San Francisco-based company also faces dozens of civil suits. London and other governments have taken steps toward banning the service, citing what they say is reckless behavior by Uber.

In January 2016, the New York attorney general fined Uber $20,000 for failing to promptly disclose an earlier data breach in 2014. After last year’s cyberattack, the company was negotiating with the FTC on a privacy settlement even as it haggled with the hackers on containing the breach, Uber said. The company finally agreed to the FTC settlement three months ago, without admitting wrongdoing and before telling the agency about last year’s attack.

The new CEO said his goal is to change Uber’s ways. Uber said it informed New York’s attorney general and the FTC about the October 2016 hack for the first time on Tuesday. Khosrowshahi asked for the resignation of Sullivan and fired Craig Clark, a senior lawyer who reported to Sullivan. The men didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The company said its investigation found that Salle Yoo, the outgoing chief legal officer who has been scrutinized for her responses to other matters, hadn’t been told about the incident. Her replacement, Tony West, will start at Uber on Wednesday and has been briefed on the cyberattack.

Kalanick was ousted as CEO in June under pressure from investors, who said he put the company at legal risk. He remains on the board and recently filled two seats he controlled.

“While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes,” Khosrowshahi said in the emailed statement.

Uber said it has hired Matt Olsen, a former general counsel at the National Security Agency and director of the National Counterterrorism Center, as an adviser. He will help the company restructure its security teams. Uber hired Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm owned by FireEye Inc., to investigate the hack.

The company plans to release a statement to customers saying it has seen “no evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident.” Uber said it will provide drivers whose licenses were compromised with free credit protection monitoring and identity theft protection.


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Uber Paid Hackers to Delete Stolen Data on 57 Million People

The Scandal Continues : Criminals Driving For Uber In Southend, TfL Revoke Just Two Licenses.



The scandal continues :
We've been told, via the media, that TfL knew there were 13,000 Uber drivers with fake DBS certificates back in January 2017.

We also know that TfL were informed around this time, about two Uber drivers working in Southend, who had lost their Southend licenses due to criminal conviction, were subsequently licensed by TfL. 

Southend council found two local cab drivers, who had previously been stripped of their licences, were using the Uber app to pick up passengers in the area. Nasser Hussain, 60, and Nisar Abbas, 37, had been found to be sharing penalty points for traffic offences with other drivers in order to avoid being banned.

Despite this, they were able to get new private hire licences from Transport for London and work using the Uber app in Southend, even though Uber doesn't have an operators’ licence there. 

Tony Cox, Southend council’s cabinet member for transport, said the legislative loophole left the local authority “impotent to protect the public”. But the public could be better protected if TfL did their job properly. 

Why Just Two Out Of 13,000?
The drivers criminal history was pointed out to TfL in February 2017 by a local Southend drivers association and their licenses were revoke.....but why just the two?

Were TfLTPH hoping this would satisfy media interest and sweep the rest of this scandal under the carpet ?

Mayor's question time 22nd of March 2017 : 
 Keith Prince AM asked the question:


Sadiq Khan answered: 


Why hasn't more been done about the other 13,000 ? 

Are TfL hoping this will all blow over ?

Why did Helen Chapman gamble with public safety ? 


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20 November 2017

Uber Driver Accused Of Sex Assaults Loses Private Hire Licence

An Uber taxi driver accused of sexually assaulting two of his passengers in Leeds has lost an appeal to keep his private hire licence.

Naveed Iqbal and his brother were both Uber drivers, using the same VW people carrier to pick up fares

Leeds City Council claims Naveed Iqbal used his brother's Uber driver login while he was away and assaulted two women on separate occasions.

The city's crown court heard no charges had been brought, but a judge said it was him who carried out the attacks "on the balance of probabilities". 

He was told to pay £1,500 in fees.

Mr Iqbal, 39, shared a Volkswagen Sharan people carrier with his brother, also an Uber driver, and picked up fares at night while his sibling worked in the day.

The court heard two women were picked up in Leeds city centre after nights out in December 2015, with the women sitting in the front passenger seat on both occasions. 
Providing evidence via video-link, one woman said she fell asleep in the cab and woke up to find the driver of the vehicle fondling one of her breasts. 

'Technical fault' defence

Another told the court she was taken to a dark road near her home and the Volkswagen's driver "put his hands on my chest and under my clothes".

Leeds City Council found the Uber driver account logged in at the time of the assaults belonged to Mr Iqbal's brother, but he was in Pakistan at the time.

Mr Iqbal denied using his brother's Uber login and sexually assaulting the two women, blaming a "technical fault" on the phone or the Uber app. 

Leeds Crown Court heard two women were picked up in Leeds city centre after nights out in December 2015 and assaulted

Judge Simon Batiste told him the vehicle which picked the women up was "only ever used by two people" and one was out of the country.

Dismissing his appeal to retain his licence, he said: "We are satisfied that he is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

"He's extremely fortunate that criminal charges have not been brought against him."

Source : Reuters 


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What's More Important...Have A Working CC Unit, Or Having Genuine DBS Clearance???

Taxi and Private Hire Compliance Officers check for working card terminals when carrying out their on-street spot checks. 40,000 compliance checks carried out on London Taxis since 31 October 2016. Officers found a problem with the card machine on just 300 occasions.

TfL again have shown their total bias against London's Taxi Trade. A statement contained in an FOI response about CC acceptance. After receiving just  192 complaints of which only one third were upheld (that's just 64), says: 

“Each case is individually assessed and may result in the driver receiving a warning or suspension of their licence and/or the vehicle being issued with an ‘unfit’ notice’; this means that the vehicle cannot be used as a licensed taxi until it is shown to have an approved functioning."

Figures released in response to a Freedom of Information request suggest that the overwhelming number of drivers are in fact complying with the new rules.

But Helen Chapman's department have happily allowed 13,000 Uber drivers to carry on working knowing (since January 2017) that they did not have the proper approved enhanced criminal record checks. 

How many Taxi drivers have been thrown out of work for months while waiting for DBS checks when renewing their licences? 

Told by Helen Chapman "I couldn't live with myself should a cabby commit a crime while working without a comp,eyed DBS".

Her department gave the 13,000 drivers 28 days to reapply with authorised DBS certificates. It has been revealed that less than 20% of the 13,000 have actually reapplied and still Helen Chapman's department have taken no action to suspend the Uber drivers without genuine criminal record checks in place. She seems more concerned that Taxi drivers may be committing the heinous crime of working with a credit card reader which isn't functioning properly. 

And to that affect, TfLTPH are employing over 300 compliance officers to make sure Taxi drivers have working, authorised units supplied by (in the late deputy Mayor Dedring's own words) TfL Golden partners.

Since the 31st of October 2016, after 40,000 comp,Janice checks carried out on street, less than one percent have been found not to be working. Is this not a comp,eye waste of our licence fee???

While 40,000 compliance checks have been made on Taxis found standing in the street, hundreds of serious sexual assaults, including rapes, have taken place in private hire vehicles, many working without the correct DBS clearance. This is scandalous and must not be allowed to continue. 



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19 November 2017

Open Letter To Deputy Mayor Val Shawcross In Regards To Uber Driver Sexual Assault Figures.


Dear Deputy Mayor Shawcross
It has been bought to Taxi Leak's attention, that in reply to a letter sent to you by Jackie Doyle-Price MP in late 2016, you allegedly made an untrue statement which did grave damage and stopped the advancement to get her on board in a campaign for the safety of the public using private hire cars.

In your response to Jackie's letter, you stated that:
It should be noted that there are complaints of sexual assaults against Black Cab drivers as much as Private Hire.

At the time of writing this, you could not have known this to be true. 


TfL have now published statistics which confirmed that in the year in question (2016) there were no such sexual assaults from Black Cab drivers and that Uber drivers were responsible for more than half of the 164 reported sexual attacks. 

Uber are still spouting the lie that all their drivers have gone through the same enhanced DBS checks as Black Cab drivers. 

In January this year as I'm sure you know, 13,000 of Uber's drivers were found to have submitted inadequate DBS certificates. Unfortunately for many victims, TfL took the strange decision to say and do nothing, that is until an expose' appeared in the media. These 13,000 drivers were given 28 days by TfL to resubmit, but we've subsequently found out that only 2,642 have in fact resubmitted and as of today, TfL have sent out no suspension or revocation requests to drivers having failed to resubmit genuine DBS certificates.

Until this happens the public are unsafe in Uber vehicles.

The Mayor made a statement at the MQT held in City Hall, 16th November 2017. In answer to a question from assembly member Kurten, he said "any driver who hasn't reapplied should not be working.

It is felt that your statement to MPs scuppered a campaign that could possibly have resulted in many sexual attack victims being protected from having to go through a life shattering experience. 

It is my request that you issue a statement of apology to the victims of these heinous attacks, and also to the Licensed Taxi Trade, whose campaign was destroyed by your alleged comment.

I look forward to your reply. 

Regards James Thomas
Editor, Taxi Leaks
Licensed Taxi Driver, 44 years service. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :

Even more concerning is this information from Twitter, which alleges TFL's TPH General Manager, Helen Chapman, has broken acceptable protocol and been 'tipping off' Uber. 







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17 November 2017

TfL Accused Of Dumbing Down Sexual Assault Figures Posted On Website


Sexual offence figures from the Met police, compiled by Transport for London, show that the number of taxi and private hire journey-related sexual offences hit 164 in the capital last year. It was also pointed out that there were none reported in Taxi journeys.


The figures on the TfL website have been dumbed down (again) and are lower than the figures gained by FOI request and published earlier this year, which show higher totals. 


What TFL's figures actually show, is that over half of all offences were committed by Uber drivers.



Back in August, emails in the Sunday Times showed alleged offences include causing death by dangerous driving, careless driving, drink-driving, driving without insurance and speeding.

In the emails, which were written on July 7, Met Inspector  Neil Billany raised 'concerns with Uber as an operator. 


In a letter obtained by The Sunday Times, Inspector Billany, head of the Metropolitan police’s taxi and private hire unit, said he had “significant concern” that Uber seemed to be “deciding what crimes to report”, telling police only about “less serious matters” that would be “less damaging to [its] reputation”.

Billany accused Uber of “allowing situations to develop that clearly affect the safety and security of the public” by keeping from police crimes committed by drivers — including at least six sexual assaults on passengers, two public order offences and an assault.

In at least one of the sex cases, Uber continued to employ the driver, who went on to commit a more serious sex attack against a second woman passenger.


Billany said: “Had Uber notified police after the first offence, it would be right to assume the second would have been prevented.”

The victims complained to Uber and were left “strongly under the impression” it would tell police, but it did not do so, he added.

In the year to February 2017, Scotland Yard recorded 48 allegations of sexual assault involving Uber drivers, mostly reported by passengers but some made via the regulator, Transport for London (TfL).

Billany said Uber’s failure to report the public order cases meant the Met learnt too late to prosecute.

The letter — dated April 17 and sent to Helen Chapman, head of taxis and private hire at TfL — was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the chairwoman of the London Assembly’s transport committee, Caroline Pidgeon.

She said she was “deeply concerned”, adding: “This apparent cover-up of reports about such serious criminal activity is shameful.”



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Patience Has Run Out : Taxi Org Calls For Week-long London Shut Down InNew Year.


Mayor Khan Says Time's Run Out For The 13,000 UberDivers With Fake DBS. He Went On To Say "They Shouldn't Be Working". TfL Not Listening???


Mayor’s Question Time 16th November 2017.
TfL are again walking all over the Taxi trade. Legislation is in place to protect the public. If the Mayor and TfL consider uber to be unsafe, not fit to be an operator, then that legislation can and should be invoked.
But again, the weak Mayor, fronting for a weak TfL, in the face of weak representation from the Taxi trade engagement orgs have given uber a blank cheque to carry on being unsafe and not fit and proper. 

At MQT yesterday, question 4 came from assembly Member David Kurten asking the Mayor to clarify the situation in regards to Uber relicensing and the appeal process. 

The Mayor gave a wishy-washy scripted reply, then added they are seeking leave to appeal, followed by the appeal process itself, which could take a couple of years. 

According to Khan (under current legislation), Uber are legally allowed to continue to operate. 
If that is the case, then how did TfL manage to shut down Taxify ???


Assembly member Kurten’s went on to question (3:28 into the video) the scandalous situation of 13,000 Uber drivers, who were given 28 days to re-present genuine DBS certificates by TfLTPH. 

Sadiq Khan said "those drivers who haven’t now re-presented should not be working !!!"

There you have it HELEN CHAPMAN, from the mouth of the Mayor.....it’s now over to you at TfLTPH !!!

What are TfL planning to do, to ensure the 10,000+ who haven’t bothered to re-present aren’t working for Uber or any other operator ?

David Kurten then asked how many drivers, Uber actually had registered on their books.

It was clear that the Mayor didn’t know the answer to this question and could only point to the total given by Uber in recent press releases, so we are none the wiser.

Another issue that's been swept under TFL's carpet:
Why has there been a complete news blackout about the Exhibition Road Alleged Uber Driver. It's been leaked that the driver -arrested at the scene- was not the driver registered on the App. The driver had picked up two female passengers who have suddenly disappeared.
First reports from on the scene witnesses said the driver appeared to deliberately attack them....all information dried up within hours..... 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
It seems patience has run out amongst the rank and file drivers who look towards their representative orgs and unions, only to find silence. 

We are now looking forward to a "Winter Of Discontent". 

In the statement below, the ITA have made their intentions crystal clear. 

NOTICE OF INTENT : From the ITA
In light of recent events and incongruous statements by Mayor #Khan and #TfL, we find no other option, but to call a series of week long disruptive protests in the New Year. 

5 different effective targets on separate days to close London. 
WATCH THIS SPACE.

See David Kurten’s questions to the Mayor in the video below 

    

Also, if you have the time, you can watch the whole MQT using this link below. Helpful if you're having trouble sleeping. 



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16 November 2017

Uber Executive Said The Company Would Spend ‘A Million Dollars’ To Shut Sarah Lacy Up


Journalist Sarah Lacy was personally targeted for writing critical stories about the company

Years before Susan Fowler came forward with her story about the mistreatment she suffered as an engineer at Uber, journalist Sarah Lacy began calling out misogyny within the startup’s culture. As editor of the tech website PandoDaily, Lacy criticized Uber for its mixed record on background checks, its tracking user data on one-night-stands and then-CEO Travis Kalanick’s comments about his own sex appeal. 

In 2014, she declared in a post that she was deleting the app. Uber took notice; at a dinner in New York City, executive Emil Michael told Buzzfeed Editor Ben Smith how he’d like to get revenge on critical members of the media, particularly Lacy. (Michael later apologized and Kalanick condemned the comments, both stating they weren’t representative of true plans.) 

In her new book, A Uterus Is a Feature, Not a Bug: The Working Woman’s Guide to Overthrowing the Patriarchy, Lacy details what it was like to do public battle with Uber. 

On a drizzly London night in November 2014, I received a call from BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith telling me that Uber, the largest and most misogynistic private company in tech, had reportedly just put a $1 million price tag on shutting me up. 

From about 2012 on, my website PandoDaily had been one of the lone critical voices amid a global business press that was enamored with Uber. When we reported a story on passengers getting assaulted in Ubers, executives told our reporter that one of the women attacked was drunk and “dressed provocatively.” This from the company that told regulators it should get special treatment because it was helping women get home safely if they’d been drinking. 

I explained in a post on Pando why I was deleting the app. I didn’t care whether Uber’s (never backed up) claim that it was safer than cabs was true or not. I knew from experience: Uber went after victims. It wasn’t worth my safety or the safety of the women I loved.

Like a lot of our past reporting on Uber, this story was widely picked up. We weren’t meaningfully hurting their downloads or their ability to raise money, but we were hurting their brand in Silicon Valley and their ability to hire. And talent is lifeblood in the Valley. Uber finally decided there was only one way to silence me: to try to destroy my personal life and reputation by any horrific means necessary. 

At a dinner filled with journalists in New York, then-CEO Travis Kalanick was attempting to reboot his image in the press. It didn’t help that at the other end of the table, an Uber executive named Emil Michael was detailing to Smith a plan he had to silence journalists, starting with me. 
(The dinner was believed by some to be off the record, but Smith says Buzzfeed was not alerted.) 

From Smith’s account:

Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press—they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine.

Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. . . It was suggested that a plan like the one Michael floated could become a problem for Uber. Michael responded: “Nobody would know it was us.”

Michael tried to brush this off later as “blowing off steam” and “a drunken rant.” Yet for a drunk man supposedly blowing off steam, he detailed to Smith a pretty precise plan, including the types of things he would try to spread into the media to silence me, in particular by going after my family. He even said I should be held responsible if women who had deleted Uber got sexually assaulted in cabs.

I paced outside an Indian restaurant in London, my phone pressed to my ear, as Smith detailed all this to me and asked if I had any comment. I had spent my career pissing people off in Silicon Valley and working with other brilliant journalists who did the same. And yet, I had never heard of anyone proposing anything this evil.

I thought of my children Eli and Evie. Right about then, they were probably wrapped in kitten and dinosaur pajamas, giggling and running through the house in a last-ditch effort to fight bedtime. If this “oppo research” plan was what the executives were bragging about at a dinner with journalists, what would they do to silence me that they wouldn’t brag about?

I had two choices when Smith published his story and seemingly every media outlet in the world was hounding me for comment. I could do what I usually did when scandal erupted around me — let my work speak for itself and wait for it to blow over. Or I could fight back.

It was clear to me the only way to be sure Uber would never go through with this plan was if everyone in the world knew what they’d threatened. That was the only way my family would be safe. Be so loud and so omnipresent that in their war room meetings (yes, they really called their meeting room “the war room”) someone would tell Michael, “She isn’t worth it! Just walk away!”

I had another motivation, too. Michael had made it clear that I was only the first reporter he wanted to go after. I knew I had a megaphone others didn’t. I was also lucky that I worked for myself, and I controlled my board. I had no boss who could tell me to stop. Odds were the next woman this company attacked wouldn’t have those luxuries. If another story like this ever came out, I wanted the victim in question to immediately get the benefit of the doubt. My maternal rage extended beyond my family to every single woman this company might target next.

I did dozens of TV interviews. My story was written up in USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post. I went on the attack on social media whenever anyone would try to defend or normalize this behavior. I called out Uber’s investors by name for pretending to support women in our industry and being dead silent now. Some of those were Pando’s investors, too. And I made it a story beyond just me: It was proof of the toxic, misogynist culture that had made me delete the app to begin with.

Nothing about this was fun. One of my investors sent his security team to my house as the story exploded in the first 24 hours and my face was everywhere as the enemy of Uber. After an initial security assessment, it was determined that armed guards would follow my children and me for two weeks. I even had to take armed guards to Yo Gabba Gabba! Live. 

A lot of “friends” and even investors turned on me. Some of our mutual investors would not even respond to my emails. Uber’s surrogates — including, not joking, the actor Ashton Kutcher — called me a “shady journalist.” 

I have essentially spent two years (and counting) in a macro-hostile work environment when it comes to covering this company. But I have continued to report on Uber, exposing the depths of the fraud and struggles in their Chinese operation a full year before the company finally pulled out of the country completely. We were one of the first publications to raise questions about whether their core business model even worked. 

Anything short of continuing to doggedly report the truth about Uber, no matter the consequences, would have been doing Michael’s dirty work for him, the way guilt does the patriarchy’s dirty work in women’s minds. If my own fears over security, safety, and reputation self-censored me, it would have been just another version of Uber’s plan working. You don’t get to threaten my company, my children, my integrity, and win. 

In 2016 a judge backed up my instinct that this was more than just some drunken rant of a single executive. Despite Uber’s denials at the time that they would never hire covert oppo researchers to smear critics, Uber did exactly that to Spencer Meyer, who was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Uber, and his attorney Andrew Schmidt. 

Uber hired a private investigative firm and launched an unethical investigation into the personal and professional lives of Meyer and Schmidt, calling people they knew and lying about who they were in order to dig up information they could use against them. As shown in court documents, the Uber contact wrote via email: “Would like to keep any communication about it encrypted or over chat to avoid potential discovery issues.” It was the fourth time Uber had hired the firm, according to a deposition.U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff said at discovery, “The court cannot help but be troubled by this whole dismal incident,” adding that the tactics were possibly “criminal” in nature. 

But a lot of journalists swept that scandal under the rug. It took until 2017 for my original claims about Uber’s dangerous misogynistic culture to become widely vindicated. Susan Fowler, a female engineer, exposed systematic and blatant misogyny at the company, from sexual propositions by management to HR cover-ups. It was shocking that one person had experienced so much sexism in one year at a company.

When her story came out, Fowler was absolutely 100% believed by the press and the wider public. And the next woman who comes forward in Silicon Valley will have even better odds of being believed. It was Fowler who finally got justice. As a result of a corporate investigation she triggered, the once untouchable Michael was finally forced to leave, and Kalanick was finally forced out.

Speaking out is not fun. But this is the only way this sh-t ever ends. One woman at a time standing up to a hostile environment, and all of us supporting her. There’s a pro-woman management theory that’s popular right now called “Shine Theory,” where women are encouraged to amplify other women when they make a smart point in a meeting . . . the kind of points men typically take credit for. This is the more aggressive form of counteracting that. When a woman comes forward, you stand up and take the arrows with her.

Source : Motto.time.com


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Lawyer Orders, Turn Over Data On Rape And Sexual Assaults Reports From Uber Passengers.

15 November 2017



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What’s Good For The Goose : One Rule For Taxis And Another Rule For TfLBuses



Just over a week ago, we saw TfL step in and banned super side adverts on a number of Taxis. But we now see the weakness of this licensing authority who are not fit to do the job as the adds appear on a number of London buses. 

More than100 buses have been criss-crossing London with advertisements for “Free Balochistan” as part of a campaign by Baloch nationalists against Pakistan’s alleged human rights abuses in the resource-rich province. 
The campaign was launched days after a similar drive on London’s taxis was stopped by authorities. The advertisements on the buses have the slogans “Free Balochistan”, “Save the Baloch People” and “Stop Enforced Disappearances”.
Transport for London (TfL), the body that runs the city’s transport network, removed similar advertisements on taxis by the World Baloch Organisation following complaints by Pakistan, which described the campaign as “sinister” and “malicious”. 
However, WBO said it would continue to peacefully and respectfully speak out against rights violations in Balochistan.
Bhawal Mengal, a member of WBO, told Hindustan Times: “We have delivered our message through taxis, billboards across London and now on over 100 buses. So far the buses are carrying the adverts but we can expect pressure again from Pakistan authorities.
“We are in touch with TfL to challenge the removal of our adverts from taxis, and will do it again if they are removed from buses that are actually owned by TfL. This is the third phase of our campaign after taxis and billboards.

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
Again we see TfL being selective in their administration. 
 • We’ve seen them do nothing when Addison Lee refused to take off Rugby World Cup livery
 • We’ve seen them fail to suspend the 13,000 drivers with fake DBS certificates, and probably the same number with fake medical passes
 • We’ve also seen TfL fail to suspend or revoke Uber drivers convicted of fraud and sentenced to jail. All five Uber drivers who were convicted of theft and fraud are still registered on the TfL website as licensed Private Hire drivers.
   Licence no                                      Name                                               Expires 






But in their defence, their COs did remove copies of a Taxi trade publication from sight in the rear windows of Taxis. 
Well done Helen, you must be so proud that our customers won’t be advised about the risk of UberRape.  
Source  : Hindustan Times, London.


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