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Published: Sun, December 17, 2017
Tech | By Dwayne Harmon

Uber hacked trade secrets, says report

Uber hacked trade secrets, says report

Still, the letter paints a picture of Uber's other competitive tactics, which Mr Jacobs said were carried out with Mr Kalanick's knowledge. An Uber spokeswoman said in a statement: "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".

Uber should have given Waymo an "inflammatory" letter written by a lawyer for one of its former security managers as part of the discovery process in Waymo's trade-secret lawsuit against the ride-hailing company, according to a legal report filed on Friday. Uber says these claims are "baseless".

Uber operatives also impersonated taxi drivers, Jacobs said, to infiltrate private Facebook groups and WhatsApp groups of opponents.

The letter also outlines a range of intrusive techniques that Uber allegedly used to extract intelligence from politicians, regulators, competitors, taxi organisations and activists.

"Mr. Jacobs' correspondence alleged systemic, institutionalized, and criminal efforts by Uber to hide evidence and steal trade secrets, not just as a general matter but also specifically involving the evidence and trade secrets at issue in this case - maybe the largest and most significant lawsuit Uber has ever faced", Cooper wrote.

"Uber has engaged, and continues to engage, in illegal intelligence gathering on a global scale", Mr Jacobs wrote in the 37-page letter.

The 37-page letter details the actions of the SSG and the Marketplace Analytics (MA) group which it claims "exists expressly for the objective of acquiring trade secrets, codebase, and competitive intelligence... from major ride-sharing competitors globally".

U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who is presiding over the lawsuit, asked special master John Cooper to determine whether Uber had erred by not submitting the letter.

Jacobs worked at the ride-hailing company from March 2016 until April 2017 as a member of its global intelligence team, where he evaluated the risks the company faced in emerging markets.

Spokesmen for Waymo and the United States attorney's office declined to comment.

"If even half of what's in that letter is true, it would be a huge injustice to force Waymo to go to trial" as scheduled, he said. He resigned this April after he was caught forwarding internal emails to his personal address, and told Uber that he meant to blow the whistle on illegal activity at the company.

Uber testified the company paid Jacobs a settlement of $4.5 million to not reveal his accusations publicly. Uber also recruited undercover agents and infiltrated closed social media groups for taxi drivers and drivers working for competing companies, according to Jacobs. The company allegedly used a combination of disappearing messaging apps, untraceable computers, and excessive use of attorney-client privilege to impede government investigations and avoid discovery obligations, says the letter. "Mat, Nick, Ed and Jake are good guys who worked day and night to protect Uber's riders, drivers and employees from real danger around the world".

Matthew Umhofer, an attorney who represents Mat Henley, Nick Gicinto, Jake Nocon and Ed Russo - four Uber employees named in Jacobs' letter - echoed Padilla's testimony. "The competitive information gathering that was done at the explicit request of management was unremarkable and no different than what's done by law-abiding companies across the country and Uber's own competitors".

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