A letter published by a US court on Friday alleges that Uber hired operatives to perform surveillance and obtain secrets from the competition, according to BBC News. The allegations are part of an ongoing legal battle between Uber and Waymo, who have claimed that their technology was stolen by Uber. The letter, which was sent in May by the lawyers of a former Uber employee, is only now being made public. An internal investigation was started at that time.
A statement from the ride-sharing company said, in response:
“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.”
The letter was originally sent by former Uber employee Richard Jacobs, after he left the company in February, claiming he was wrongly demoted.
According to the letter:
“These tactics were employed clandestinely through a distributed architecture of anonymous servers, telecommunications architecture, and non-attributable hardware and software.”
After Jacobs settled his dispute with the company, for 4.5 million dollars, he admitted some of the letter’s allegations are not true, including the claims regarding stolen Waymo technology. Yet, other allegations in the letter have been proven true, such as the company having accessed the medical records of one woman who alleged that she was raped by an Uber driver, and allegations that Uber employees posed as protesters to monitor online conversations. According to one allegation, a “surveillance team” was sent to a hotel to record executives from a rival company discussing their reaction to news that Uber was receiving substantial funding from a Saudi investor.
The trial over the Waymo accusations was set to begin earlier this month, but has been postponed until February.
“I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,” said presiding judge William Alsup, saying Uber’s attorneys had withheld evidence. The letter was brought to Alsup by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, which is investigating Uber over other concerns.
“We’re going to have to put the trial off because if even half of what’s in that letter is true it would be a huge injustice to force Waymo to go to trial,” said Alsup.