Uber Officials Did Some Spying And Wiretapping. But Why?

uber

Uber isn’t just your friendly cab company.

New media reports have revealed that some of the top officials at Uber took part in illegal activities related to spycraft and wiretapping.

More specifically, one of the top Uber lawyers instructed related personnel to write double-secret A/C priv on one of the related documents.

Right now a lot of readers who haven’t followed the Waymo vs Uber lawsuit would wonder about who wrote this letter?

Or more specifically this high-anticipated demand letter.

Well, according to most media reports, a former Uber employee wrote the demand letter.

Or at least someone else wrote it on the former Uber employee’s behalf.

The demand letter has managed to become quite central to the case.

As the drama unfolds further, media reports will continue to clarify the Waymo vs Uber lawsuit regarding trade secrets more comprehensively.

Authorities released the demand letter publicly last Friday in the afternoon.

What did the letter say?

The court had already previewed the demand letter in earlier hearings.

Involved parties in the case are referring to the letter as Jacobs Letter.

The letter basically outlines the possibly illegal and questionable behavior that Richard Jacobs, the former Uber security official, and some of his former colleagues actively engaged in throughout the duration of his tenure at Uber.

His tenure at the company lasted around 11 months.

The letter discusses the wrongdoings in great detail.

Concerned authorities only recently shared the Jacob Letter with the case’s lawyers who worked on the lawsuit.

The judges involved in the lawsuit and overseeing the Waymo vs Uber case also didn’t get to see the letter just recently.

After both lawyers and judges got to see and study the letter, the federal prosecutors ultimately opened a legal criminal investigation into the taxi company known as Uber.

That criminal investigation case is still ongoing.

When did the Waymo vs Uber case begin?

The case began about ten months ago back in February of 2017.

This is when Waymo sued the taxi company known as Uber.

Moreover, Waymo also sued one of the company’s own and now former employees.

For what?

For stealing around 14,000 files before the former employee left the company.

Who is that former employee?

That former employee goes by the name of Anthony Levandowski.

After leaving Waymo, Anthony Levandowski quickly formed his own company.

And Uber, after a while, acquired that company.

During the course of the Waymo vs Uber case, Anthony Levandowski has consistently refused to cooperate and comply with the company’s, his current employer, demands.

And consequently Uber has fired Levandowski.

Moreover, Uber has also clarified or rather denied that the company benefited from the work and actions of Levandowski in any way.

Why is the Waymo vs Uber case so important?

The case Waymo vs Uber is important because of its outcome.

Whoever wins the case will likely get ahead of the other as far as the autonomous vehicle sector is concerned.

The autonomous vehicle sector is rapidly growing.

And because of that, the industry is as close to cutthroat competition as you can get.

The company that wins the case will get a huge advantage over the other.

Now, the Jacobs Letter makes several explosive claims.

uber_and_jacobs_letter

Some top officials at Uber abused their powers.

But the most explosive of those claims comes when the letter specifically mentions that two Uber employees, named and high-level ones, including an Uber lawyer who the company has fired since then, Mat Henley along with Craig Clark (who still works for Uber) and also recently testified in a US court, arranged the above-mentioned scheme.

These men had a huge part to play in leading Uber’s activities and efforts which helped the company evade future and current discovery requests along with government investigations and court orders in violation of federal law as well as state law.

Not to mention that these Uber employees also broke many ethical rules which govern the US legal profession.

New evidence suggests that Clark actively devised specific training and also provided the advice whose only intent was to obstruct, impede and influence the criminal investigations of many ongoing lawsuits against his employer, Uber.

The letter also mentions that Clark provided assistance in contemplation of and relation to further matters which fell well within the United States jurisdiction.

Jacobs letter also contained many details about the allegations regarding abuse of privileges that are involved in an attorney-client relationship.

The letter also mentions that one specific point, Uber employee, Clark, allegedly gave the order that concern personnel would write double secret A/C priv on a specific document.

Why?

Because he wanted to shield the document from anyone who tried to disclose it in future or ongoing lawsuits.

For those who don’t know, double secret A/C priv is the short form of “double-secret attorney-client privilege.

Many lawyers on social media websites such as Twitter noted that double-secret A/C priv didn’t really represent a legal term.

One layer said that if someone invoked the double-secret attorney-client privilege, it would actually cancel the first privilege right out.

The lawyer also mentioned that it was a little known in-house secret.

The Jacobs letter doesn’t end there.

Additionally, it also describes what the latter addresses as illegal wiretapping.

Yes, some Uber employees engaged in activities such as illegal wiretapping in relation to a phone call which discussed an internal sexual harassment report.

We also saw Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, coming forward earlier this year with her own unfortunate experience of abuse at work.

Susan Fowler’s story ultimately led the company to fire Travis Kalanick, the then-CEO of the company.

Jacobs letter, in another section of its contents, described Uber making use of a new technical capability via CIA-trained case officials that the company had contracted earlier.

The letter mentions that back in 2016, the people mentioned allegedly engaged in activities in which they collected mobile-phone metadata through means such as,

  • Signal-intercept equipment
  • The mobile network itself
  • Hacked mobile devices

Then, the people involved in these activities eventually shared the information with Jacobs and his colleagues.

The information they shared included,

  • Call logs
  • Communicants’ telephone numbers
  • Date of communications
  • Time of communications
  • Call durations
  • Mobile phone subscribers’ identification numbers.

The letter additionally mentions that the subsequent study and link-analysis of the collected metadata completely occurred on United States soil.

The demand letter is around 37 pages long.

Who filed the latter anyway?

uber_vs_waymo

The lawyers are the real winners amidst all the drama.

The answer is an attorney in Minnesota on Jacobs’ behalf.

Media reports now have revealed that the attorney might have done so to essentially send a warning to concerned parties that Jacobs could very well sue the company in the future.

Uber did not go to the court for Jacobs letter and what the letter claimed.

Instead, the company found it more suitable to pay Jacobs around $4.5 million and his Minnesota attorney, Clayton Halunen, around $3 million.

Angela Padilla, who is the deputy general counsel at Uber, in one of the recent court hearings, testified that she considered the letter as extortionate.

With that said, she also noted that Uber did not go to court in the first place because it would have cost Uber a lot of money.

When Ars Technica reporters contacted Halunen for a comment, they received no response or a comment to their request.

If we can turn our attention to another court filing which concerned personnel filed to the court on Friday, Special Master John Cooper, an outside advisor appointed by the court, tried to determine that that parties involved in the case and authorities should have released this Jacobs Letter much earlier to Waymo.

Moreover, John Cooper, said that the this was essential as the letter could have formed an important part of the civil discovery procedure.

We have already mentioned that Jacobs’ letter only came on to the scene just recently.

More precisely about a month ago.

Nobody knew about its existence before that.

As a result of the letter, authorities have postponed the trial again.

This is now the second time authorities have had to postpone the trial.

Now, the court has scheduled the trial for early part of 2018 in February in the hill city of San Francisco.

This also happens to be the place which is just blocks away from 1455 Market St where Uber has its headquarters.

Update:

David Satterfield, who works as a media strategist, sent an unsolicited email to Ars Technica late on Friday.

According to Ars Technica, the letter had David mentioning that he had read Ars Technica story on Waymo vs Uber and Jacobs Letter.

And that he wanted to answer any questions that Ars Technica may have on the issue.

Ars Technica also reported that David provided the news agency with several statements which pertained to around six former and current employees at Uber.

These were the same employees that Jacobs letter referenced in Jacobs letter.

According to another attorney, Matthew Umhofer, who is currently representing four existing Uber employees said that he considered Ric Jacob’s letter nothing more than just an attempt to character assassinate people for some cash.

He mentioned that specifically in his letter.

And also mentioned in the form of a written statement.

Who are the men that Matthew Umhofer is representing?

waymo_vs_uber

Whoever wins this case, probably wins the autonomous car race as well.

They include,

  • Matt Hanley.
    He is the head of global threat operations for Uber
  • Jack Nocon.
    He is the solutions team manager for Uber.
  • Nick Gicinto.
    He works as the head of strategic services group for Uber
  • Ed Russo.
    He is the senior threat and risk analyst at Uber

Umhofer continued with his statement and said that:

he considered Jacobs nothing more than a failed employee at Uber who the company demoted because of underperformance.

According to Umhofer, Jacobs, after this dismissal, took the opportunity to retaliate against his colleagues and supervisors with a letter that he filled with major distortions.

Umhofer said that Jacobs designed his letter in order to line his pockets with money.

Moreover, Umhofer continued, that Jacobs did not shy away from taking the good work of his clients and then twist it into something awful.

Joe Sullivan, the former chief security officer at Uber, also gave a statement recently.

Uber fired Job Sullivan after media reports disclosed the data breach which affected more than 57 million users.

Sullivan said in his statement that from where he sat, his team acted very ethically and with integrity.

He also said that his team acted to safeguard the best interests of his riders and drivers.

Satterfield also sent other statements to Ars Technica.

One of the statements came from Mark Howitson.

Mark Howitson is currently working as a lawyer for Craig Clark.

He said in a statement that his client Clark had actually acted reasonably appropriately at all times.

This is a good time to mention that Howitson, in the past, has also worked for Facebook as the company’s deputy general counsel.

In the end, Satterfield also informed Ars Technica that:

at the present time none of the above-mentioned six men would offer answers to any questions and/or to the statements that he provided Ars Technica.

Satterfield also clarified that he did not represent the six men in question as a spokesperson.

With that said, he did mention that he just wanted to assist Joe Sullivan along with his legal team.

He told Ars Technica that Joe Sullivan’s team had asked him to coordinate with them and other folks.

With That Out Of The Way Perhaps You Should Know Something Important About More Significant Issues Such As Net Neutrality

Media reports have revealed that according to Schumer, the Senate will go through a vote which would reinstate all net neutrality laws.

That is a great idea to think about and imagine.

Afterall, Congress does possess the authority to block any proposal which suggests net neutrality repeal.

However, that does not take care of the fact that Democrats will have to face tough opposition if they want to stop Republicans.

Stop Republicans from what?

Stop them from destroying an open and free internet in the US.

Chuck Schumer, who is a Democrat from New York and a US Senate Minority Leader recently said that:

he would not hesitate to force a vote on a bill which would reinstate all net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission had implemented during the Obama administration.

Schumer also mentioned that legislation could reverse the repeal.

And to do so they did not need the support of the majority leader.

Schumer also mentioned during a press conference which took place last Friday that:

they could bring the issue to the floor and then follow that up with a forced vote.

In this way, they could vote to repeal the new rules that the Federal Communications Commission just passed.

This is what The Hill has reported.

All That Democrats Need Right Now Is a Simple Majority

Just last week we saw the Federal Communications Commission voting to get rid of the organization’s own net neutrality rules.

And it is true that the repeal won’t take effect immediately.

It will take around 60 days to go into full effect.

And the count for those 60 days will not start unless it is published in the US Federal Register.

With that said, the Congress has the authority to overturn any of the agency’s actions.

It can do that by invoking the US Congressional Review Act or CRA.

The Congress invoked the act earlier this year as well.

Back then it wanted to eliminate many protections for consumer broadband privacy.

What would a successful Congressional Review Act vote mean?

It would allow the Congress to invalidate the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal.

Moreover, a successful Congressional Review Act vote would also prevent the Federal Communications Commission from issuing similar repeals for the future as well.

Additionally, it would also force the Federal Communications Commission to maintain the regulations and rules which classify internet service providers as common carriers under the Communications Act Title II.

 

 

Zohair

Zohair

Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
Zohair

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Uber Officials Did Some Spying And Wiretapping. But Why?

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