A project was started to track Uber’s conduct. The amount of controversies continues to expand, but at the core of it are Uber’s exploitation of their workers, its unethical surveillance of the broader population, and its political wrongdoing. Unsurprisingly, the same is true of many other institutions, and the extent of which that’s true does not always prompt consistent outrage.
There is evidence that Uber artificially creates “surges,” or periods of higher prices designed (supposedly) to induce drivers to work and serve high passenger demand.
Shareholders that owned about 40 percent of Uber ousted CEO Travis Kalanick. It’s important to note that while this is a rare and significant event, Uber is still closely held and controlled by a tight circle of people, including Kalanick.
Uber launched a number of efforts to oppose the unionization of its drivers in Seattle, including a scripted episode of the “Uber Seattle Driver Podcast,” and misleading phone calls to drivers. The unionization effort was stalled in April 2017 by a ruling blocking the law that permitted it.
Taxi drivers protested President Trump’s racist Executive Order banning people from certain countries from entering the U.S. by not picking up passengers at New York’s JFK airport. Uber’s response was to turn off surge pricing at the airport, which was widely condemned and started a #DeleteUber campaign, which caused a number of people to delete the Uber app. Uber actions are unclear — turning off surge pricing prevented opportunistic drivers from going to the airport, but also kept fares low for those wanting a ride. While the public response to Uber’s actions likely did not understand this nuance, there should be frustration that Uber drivers could not coordinate a strike like that of the taxi drivers and unions, which speaks more to Uber’s relationship with its drivers and how it has decided to structure its company. In addition, Lyft, the main rival to Uber, capitalized on Uber’s misstep, but it has many of the same problems as Uber.
Uber set up a sophisticated structure for its business, sheltering itself from taxes. It also evaded VAT taxes in the European Union, which it now has to repay to all EU governments.