A former Uber employee has alleged that a special division within the global ride-hailing app was responsible for acts of corporate espionage, the theft of trade secrets, the bribery of foreign officials and several means of unlawful surveillance.
The allegations against Uber were part of a latter dubbed as “Jacobs letter” that was written by the attorney for Richard Jacobs who previously worked as Uber’s manager of global intelligence before being fired in April this year, TechCrunch reported on Saturday.
Jacobs alleged that Uber’s secretive Strategic Services Group (SSG) “frequently engaged in fraud and theft, and employed third-party vendors to obtain unauthorised data or information.” According to The Verge, he also accused Uber security officers of “hacking” and “destruction of evidence related to eavesdropping against opposition groups.”
The letter is part of the legal battle between Uber and Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo over self-driving technology. The letter alleged that some of the information gathered was relayed to then-CEO Travis Kalanick, the report added.
“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,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.
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”.
Waymo is an autonomous car development company spun out of Google‘s parent company Alphabet. Waymo has estimated damages at nearly $1.9 billion and wants to curtail Uber’s self-driving car programme, which Waymo says uses its technology.
In May, Uber fired Anthony Levandowski, who earlier headed its self-driving car project, for allegedly stealing some 14,000 documents from Waymo. Levandowski was part of Waymo before he joined Uber.