Report: During Canada tax raid, Uber “remotely encrypted corporate data”

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Wait, should I be happy about this because it’s a use of encryption, or angry about it because it’s Uber?


The timing is unfortunate and perhaps suspicious. Therefore everyone should encrypt everything as a matter of course and not wait until a raid :slight_smile:


You expect Libertarian “disruptors” are going to meekly pay taxes?


Because corporations today are much too transparent.


Uh-oh, someone pointed out that Uber’s done something shady yet again. Anyone want to get a pool going on how long it’s going to take the Uber Defence and Cheerleading squad to show up?

I wonder how they’re going to blame it on traditional taxis or the algorithm this time.


Like Uber, but for tax fraud


Further, according to the article, Uber claims that they did nothing to modify the files. Riiiight.

The case is in regards to whether the Uber drivers are contractors or employees.


I’m sure they’ll be visionaries disrupting the cigarette market in prison. Wait - that’s mackerel cans these days, right?

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Howsabout, unhappy because Uber has blown the gaff and now governments will consequently move to make remote operation of your own equipment illegal?


So, just for the running tally on Uber (With thanks to some mates on twitter), and partially because I take a curious joy at irritating the Uber Cheerleader Squad, here’s where we’re at:

  • Poaching ~50 CMU roboticists during a collaboration,

  • Straight-up no-nonsense corp warfare on Lyft,

  • Claiming they’re not a transport service company despite the fact that it’s their entire business model

  • Policies that hurt drivers, including shifting all the cost and culpability onto them

  • This shady bullshit

  • The shady bullshit that goes along with this article, which is straight up ignoring tax laws

  • Openly ignoring the law in any place where their service isn’t legal to operate to gain a competitive advantage over competitors who refuse to break the law

  • Essentially declaring themselves immune to anti-discrimination laws

  • Their CEO getting caught sponsoring conventions on militarizing the police

  • Attacking journalists and publically announcing they wanted to do so on an almost industrial scale(To a room full of journalists, no less)

  • Actively rejecting any culpability if their drivers commit crimes while on duty

  • Touting their criminal background checks as best in business when they’re so laughable(or possibly entirely absent) that they let people on parole through despite their “no criminal records” policy

  • Followed by pulling out of the entire state of Kansas when they tried to hold them to an actual standard for background checks - one they claimed they already passed)

  • Obfuscating saftey statistics

  • Deliberate misuse of passenger data(not just for business purposes, but also for entertainment)

  • Pissweak data security, at least for things that aren’t potential evidence that they’re breaking the law or refusing to pay taxes

  • Actively attempting to sabotage competing services

  • Attempting to abuse the patent system - Or let’s call it by an accurate name, attempted patent trolling - by attempting to patent variable pricing

  • Price gouging during crises(which, ironically, taxi regs specifically prevent)

  • Attempting to manipulate lawmaking to lock out the competition.

Did I miss anything? Probably. Uber is straight-up the shadiest shitpile of a company in the industry, And looking at some of the taxi companies - especially where I live - that’s really fucking saying something.

If nothing else, we should thank them for one thing, and that’s proving - to quote @Heavyvoxel on twitter - “tech can make the world a better place but there’s also rash of companies working hard to make it worse”


Also according to the article, the general director told one of the RQ agents that the engineers in San Francisco were encrypting the files.

Partly to keep in practice, and partly so that we are all clear on the contents of the article… (I think this constitutes fair use, no?)

Some of Uber’s engineers in San Francisco may have tried to encrypt data remotely on Uber Canada’s computers during a raid conducted by Revenu Québec last week in Montréal.

This is what Revenu Québec alleges in an information laid before Judge Jean-Pierre Braun last week, which La Presse has obtained. Uber sought to challenge this assertion, but did not have the opportunity, according to an injunction request presented to the court last week as well.

Raid on Uber Canada offices

On May 15, fifteen Revenu Québec investigators conducted a search of computer data at Uber Canada’s admininistrative offices on Notre-Dame Street. The investigators were looking for evidence showing that Uber Canada broke tax laws by failing to collect GST and QST on behalf of its UberX drivers.

One of the investigators noted that, around 10:40 AM, “mobile devices, such as laptops, smart phones were rebooted remotely” during the seizure. Another investigator, who was executing a second search warrant in another office, noted exactly the same thing at 10:40 as well. “The computer systems were being controlled remotely. We took control of the information systems by powering them down, given the urgency and very high risk of the data being modified remotely,” states the disclosure presented to Judge Jean-Pierre Braun.

According to the disclosure, the general director of Uber, Jean-Nicolas Guillemette, told one of the investigators a bit later “that he had spoken with Uber Technologies’ engineers in San Francisco, and these latter had encrypted the data remotely.”

Mr. Guillemette did not answer our calls yesterday. Uber filed an application for an injunction last Friday to place all seized data and devices under seal until the courts can look into the merits of the case. This application was granted on Monday by Judge David R. Collier. Until such time, Revenu Québec may neither peruse nor analyse the contents of the computers.

Technically, data that has been encrypted has not been altered, but modified to make it unreadable without a password.

Guillemette followed

Revenu Québec seized a total of 74 cell phones, 14 computers, invoices from 2014, and contracts with partner drivers. The agency is trying to use the seized data to show that Uber Canada is not “just a broker between drivers and clients,” but an employer, and must therefor collect the taxes.

The disclosure also revealed that Revenu Québec’s “physical surveillance” agents [Trans: La Presse’s quotation marks.] tailed Mr. Guillemette on March 13. These latter were tasked with confirming that the Uber offices on Notre-Dame St. were indeed those of Uber Canada Inc. They thus followed him from his residence to his workplace.

Revenu Québec had obtained an initial warrant allowing them to only to collect the data by copying the hard drives. After noticing the equipment rebooting, the agency expanded the warrant to allow them to seize the equipment as well. In its request for an injunction, Uber Canada complained that the company hadn’t been able to present a witness to contest the scope of the new search warrant. The request states “This witness would have declared [that Uber] had neither altered nor tried to alter the data stored on these computers.”

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