WDY 12.6

Playing the Uber Parlor Game

During the past years tracking Uber’s shameless chicanery has become a bit of a parlor game.

Palace intrigue? Oh yes. Digging at truth hidden behind constant obfuscation? Check. Secret Uber departments dedicated to subterfuge? Sure. Siccing CIA-linked operatives on opponents? Yes, ugh.

And writers proffering thoughtful analysis. One called the Uber game “part thriller, part soap opera.”

Mix in story lines of people getting hurt—passengers assaulted, a six-year-old girl killed, drivers duped into predatory loans—and the game acquires a darker tone with broader implications. To wit: How are we, as a civilization, going to protect people in an age of shiny, enthralling toys?

Will we use tech, or will it use us?

Bunches of talented reporters have made reams of insightful observations in this “game.”

For our money, this is one of the most trenchant yet.

Ready?

The context of this passage is the London regulator canceling Uber’s operating license. Understand that London is Uber’s largest market outside of the U.S.

This insight comes from reporter Ethan Wolff-Mann in an article entitled: “Uber is testing the limits of a long public leash”:

“London’s move shows that even if attrition of a company’s reputation doesn’t affect consumer choices, it can still embolden regulators who otherwise would not take the political risk of slapping the wrist of a beloved company for a sin that is difficult for consumers to understand.”

When you behold the bevy of countries, lawmakers, states, cities and groups penalizing and chastising Uber for hiding a consumer-data hack for nearly a year—this point rings quite true.

Score one.

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