Irish lobbyist Mark MacGann admits “we sold people a lie” after identifying himself as a whistleblower who leaked thousands of company files on American taxi-sharing company Uber.
In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the 52-year-old Longford native admitted he was the source who leaked more than 124,000 company emails and other documents that led to “The Uber Files” – a worldwide investigation into the the Silicon Valley-based company between 2013 and 2017, when it was “expanding aggressively worldwide,” according to the newspaper.
The investigation, which involved 180 journalists in 29 countries working as part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), revealed “how the company broke the law, duped police and regulators, exploited violence against drivers and has secretly influenced governments around the world. ”
Mr MacGann, a former Uber executive who has campaigned for governments in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said he chose to speak out because he believed the company was knowingly flouting laws in dozens of countries and The company’s gig economy model misleads people about the benefits to drivers,” The Guardian reported.
“I’m partially responsible,” he said. “I was the one who spoke to governments. I was the one who pushed this with the media. I was the one telling people to change the rules because drivers would benefit and people would get so many economic opportunities.
“When it turned out that wasn’t the case – we had actually been selling people a lie – how can you have a clear conscience if you don’t stand up and own your part in how people are treated today?”
Mr MacGann said his role at Uber between 2014 and 2016, when the company “forced its way into markets in violation of taxi licensing laws” led him to oversee the company’s attempts to “persuade governments to change taxi regulations.” change and create a more favorable business environment in more than 40 countries”.
He noted that Uber has been able to penetrate “the highest levels of power” in countries like the UK, France and Russia, which he described as “intoxicating” but also “deeply unfair” and “anti-democratic”.
“I regret to be part of a group of people who have massed the facts to gain the trust of drivers, consumers and political elites,” he said. “I should have shown more common sense and done more to stop the madness. It is my duty [now] speak up and help governments and parliamentarians correct some fundamental mistakes. Morally, I had no choice in the matter,” he told The Guardian.
He announced he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which he says was partly due to his experience working at Uber as the public face of the company at a time when there was backlash against the company in countries like France company gave. Belgium, Italy and Spain.
He claimed a “confrontational strategy” of dealing with adversaries in the taxi industry under the previous leadership of company founder Travis Kalanick exposed him personally to the point that he received bodyguard protection after receiving death threats.
He said his first day of work in October 2014 was an eye-opener when he emailed a senior Uber manager to say he was stuck in traffic, and the manager responded by saying, “I’m watching. ‘ This was in reference to the fact that the company was using a tool called ‘God View’ at the time, which allowed it to keep tabs on the activities of its drivers around the world.
“It felt like kids were playing around with powerful surveillance technology,” MacGann said. “Even then it dawned on me that this was a rogue company.”
In its statement, Uber said tools like God View, which it stopped using in 2017, “should never have been used.”
Meanwhile, Mr MacGann told the newspaper that he was “drunk on Kool-Aid” at Uber and does not deny “that he was at the center of much of the controversy uncovered by his data breach”.
His duties included meetings with heads of state, prime ministers, transport ministers and EU commissioners, as well as local mayors. He described arranging meetings with former Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Chancellor George Osborne as “a piece of cake”.
But after being diagnosed with PTSD in March 2019, during a subsequent period of reflection he looked back on his time at Uber and remarked, “I stepped off the corporate hamster wheel for the first time in decades. I have come out with a renewed sense of clarity about everything at Uber.”
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/we-sold-people-a-lie-irish-whistleblower-admits-he-was-behind-uber-leak-41831869.html ‘We sold people a lie’ – Irish whistleblower admits he was behind the Uber leak