4 May, 2021

Boycott Uber

Uber is an American multinational technology company based in San Francisco, California, and has a mobile application that allows its users to request a driver with his car for the purpose of transportation. Drivers also use the same application but to benefit from it, knowing that Uber deducts fees for using the application from drivers on each trip. Its services are available in 449 cities in more than 66 countries around the world, and has more than 78 million active users monthly around the world.

As with similar companies, Uber has come under fire for treating drivers as independent contractors, negatively affecting the taxi business sector, increasing traffic jam and unethical practices. It is noteworthy that the company’s trial version in mid-2010 began only for those who seek to rent a luxury black car, and then turned to other options with regular vehicles.

In August 2017, Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of the Expedia Group, became the CEO of Uber. A month later, the company was severely criticized for its controversial policy of "tracking customer locations even after the trip is over," forcing the company to backtrack on its policy, as it said. Then in 2019, it became a public company through an initial public offering, with significant losses, and then it began to lay off hundreds of employees and then thousands, respectively. But in early 2020, it acquired Careem (a company based in Dubai, with operations running in over 100 cities, covering 15 countries) for $3.1 billion.

Uber operates in several countries in the MENA region: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Iraq and Bahrain.

Why Boycott Uber and its Subsidiaries?
Because it is a US based company, it spies on its customers, monopolizes important and large markets in which thousands of citizen’s work, and at the same time it controls money earned by drivers. Even an “Israeli” court affiliated with the occupation, who is supposedly a friend of the Americans, decided to prevent the Uber transport service in the occupied Palestine in 2017. This happened after a petition was filed by the taxi drivers union and the local "Get Taxi" application, in addition to problems related to "passenger insurance" - that is, to protect the public interest. At the time, the “Israeli” union said that the U.S. based company "operates private taxis violating the law, endangering passengers since they do not have any insurance, and employ drivers who have not received any training ... Everyone knows that they are doing it for money, even if they say otherwise."

Data Theft ... and a Boycott in Turkey
Uber previously acknowledged that cyber hackers were able to steal the personal data of about 57 million passengers and drivers from its users, keeping this breach secret for a year. But doubts arise about the fact that such news is a way to cover up the stolen data and sell it to others!

Then, in 2019, social media sites witnessed a hashtag (#BoycottUber) against the background of statements about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as the company's CEO likened Khashoggi's murder to mistakes Uber has made with self-driving vehicles. The CEO added that Khashoggi’s murder "is a serious mistake ... We also make mistakes in self-driving and recover from (the likes of) that mistake," referring to collision between self-driving car and an Arizona woman. However, after a pressure, he was forced to apologize, and he said at the time "when you are rich, your crimes become mistakes."

In the year 2021, Uber was forced to pay $1.1 million to a blind woman who had been refused service by drivers on 14 occasions, according to the BBC. Lisa Irving said that drivers verbally abused and harassed her about taking her guide dog, Bernie, with her in the car. A court ruled that the company’s drivers practiced “unlawful discrimination” against her because of her health condition.

This was not the first time Uber faces a legal battle from the vision-impaired community. In 2014, the National Federation of the Blind in the United States filed a lawsuit against it over guide dogs regulations.

In Lebanon, the Syndicate of Taxi Owners has led a campaign against the company, claiming that it does not have headquarters in Lebanon, and that the company is “illegally” signing contracts with cars not registered as a public transportation. A global campaign was launched as well, based on stronger arguments related to improper practices by Uber and similar companies, because they reap illegal profits from running applications that exploit the work of drivers without any effort, do not pay fair taxes, and constitute unequal competition with traditional carriers.

Later, the European Court of Justice decided to treat Uber as a regular taxi company, subject to the necessary licenses and regulations under national law. But, Uber defied the ruling and announced that it would not change its regulations, and that it faces the loss of its license in a number of countries if it does not pay drivers a minimum wage and give them paid leave.

What are the Local Alternatives?
There are many local alternatives that can be used. Always look for the most famous, safest and best-priced companies, and you can stop any regular vacant taxi that seems to be committed to the legal procedures in the country, asking them in person take you wherever you want. Uber does not represent safety as it is alleged, as murders were committed in its cars and by its drivers on a number of occasions in more than one country. In addition, you can build good relations with a number of taxi drivers to ensure finding one close to you when needed.

What is The Alternative When Traveling?
When traveling, look for any local (non-American) alternative in the country you are visiting. You can also use public transportation when planning your travel well, as well as tourism companies, or your friends, who can introduce you to cheap and safe taxi services.

Who is Khosrowshahi?
Dara Khosrowshahi (1969) is an Iranian-American businessman, CEO of Uber, and a member of the board of the "New York Times" company. Khosrowshahi was selected among the list of "prominent Iranians-Americans" published by the US embassy (virtual, by proxy) in Tehran. He is a politician inclined to the United States Democratic Party after his family fled from Iran during the revolution. In 2016 he donated to the Hillary Clinton electoral fund, the Democratic Senator Patty Murray Fund in Washington, and to the Democratic National Committee, as well as to Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, who is a supporter of libertarianism.