'Jacobs letter' unsealed, accuses Uber of spying, hacking


Waymo's lawsuit against Uber for allegedly stealing technology for self-driving cars hasn't gone to trial yet, because the judge received a letter from the Department of Justice suggesting Uber withheld crucial evidence. That letter, with some redactions, is now available for all to read and it's not good news for Uber. It was written by the attorney of a former employee, Richard Jacobs, and it contains claims that the company routinely tried to hack its competitors to gain an edge, used a team of spies to steal secrets or surveil political figures and even bugged meetings between transport regulators -- with some of this information delivered directly to former CEO Travis Kalanick. Alphabet's self-driving arm Waymo is making the case that Anthony Levandowski created the autonomous trucking company Otto as a scheme to steal its trade secrets and sell them to Uber. In the letter, it says that members of the Uber SSG team Jacobs worked on traveled to Pittsburgh after it acquired the company to instruct Otto employees on how to use burner phones and ephemeral communications apps to avoid discovery in an expected lawsuit.

New Evidence Could Blow Open the Uber/Waymo Self-Driving Lawsuit


Today, after three weeks of legal hemming and hawing, the Northern District of California finally made public a potentially key piece of evidence in the rollicking, roiling, rolling trade secrets lawsuit between self-driving Alphabet spinoff Waymo and ridehailing company Uber. That evidence is the Jacobs Letter, a 37-page rundown of truly outrageous allegations about Uber's business practices, put to paper by the lawyer for former Uber employee Ric Jacobs. Originally sent to Uber's lawyers as part of a dispute between the company and Jacobs, it's now at the center of Uber's legal fight with Waymo. And while the letter's contents most definitely have not been proven true, they include some tremendous new assertions: that former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick himself directed trade theft; that the company employed spies to trail competitors' executives; that it illegally recorded a call with employees about sexual assault allegations; and that it used a meme-filled slideshow to teach employees how to hide implicating documents from nosy lawyers. In February, Waymo sued Uber for trade secret theft.

Uber stole trade secrets, bribed foreign officials and spied on rivals, filing says

The Guardian

Uber allegedly engaged in a range of "unethical and unlawful intelligence collections", including the theft of competitive trade secrets, bribery of foreign officials and spying on competitors and politicians, according to an explosive legal document published on Friday. It's the latest chapter in the discovery process for the company's messy legal squabble with Waymo, Google's driverless car spin-off, which has accused Uber of stealing trade secrets. The details were outlined in a 37-page demand letter filed by the ex-Uber security manager Richard Jacobs, who left the company earlier this year. The document paints a picture of a team of employees dedicated to spying on rivals and "impeding" legal investigations into the company. Jacobs alleges that when he raised concerns over the techniques being used, he was given a poor performance review and demoted as "pure retaliation" for refusing to buy into the culture of "achieving business goals through illegal conduct even though equally aggressive legal means were available".

Apple supplier Foxconn wants self-driving worker shuttles


See how self-driving cars prepare for the real world inside a private testing facility owned by Google's autonomous car company, Waymo. The Navya passenger shuttle is among myriad autonomous vehicles worldwide in various stages of development. And at an event Nov. 17 and 18 on the University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering campus, visitors will have the opportunity to check it out. The Taiwan-based electronic manufacturer's plans to use driverless vehicles to move thousands of workers a day at its 22 million-square-foot campus about 30 miles south of Milwaukee could pave new ground for the technology, which promises to reshape transportation in this country. More than a dozen states are scrambling to get ready for self-driving cars, and while major companies from Google to General Motors are testing such cars, few are in use yet.

Uber's Use of Wickr Raises Questions About Ephemeral Messaging Apps


During a pair of explosive pre-trial hearings last week, the lawsuit between self-driving Alphabet spinoff Waymo and Uber over trade secrets got an unlikely, new star player. It wasn't an engineer, like Anthony Levadowski, the former Google engineer who allegedly brought reams of Waymo trade secrets to his next big gig as head of autonomous driving at Uber. It wasn't a security analyst, like Ric Jacobs, a former Uber employee whose allegations of malfeasance within the company delayed the Uber-Waymo trial by two months as the judge reopened the document discovery process. It was a messaging app. Anybody can download Wickr to send encrypted messages that destroy themselves, but its professional, workplace product takes the extra step of giving the employers the power to determine how long the messages stick around before it deletes them.

The Spectator Who Threw a Wrench in the Waymo/Uber Lawsuit


Eric Swildens knows how damaging intellectual property trials can be. In 2002, Speedera Networks, the content delivery network he cofounded, was sued for patent infringement and trade secrets violation by Akamai. "It was trial by fire," says the 50-year-old engineer. "I learned a bunch of stuff I didn't necessarily want to learn." Mark Harris is a freelance journalist reporting on technology from Seattle.

What Is The Jacobs Letter? Evidence In Uber-Waymo Case Going Public

International Business Times

A memo written by former Uber security analyst Ric Jacobs, which has become a primary piece of evidence in the company's legal battle with autonomous car development company Waymo, is expected to be made public Dec. 13. The 37-page letter from Jacobs was addressed to Uber's deputy general counsel Angela Padilla and details the company's "marketplace analytics" team that, according to Jacobs, existed for the sole purpose of stealing trade secrets from competitors. The revelation of the letter--which was raised by the United States Department of Justice after the agency collected the document earlier this year as part of its own criminal investigation into Uber--raised questions about whether Uber knowingly withheld evidence that was relevant to its dispute with the Google subsidiary company Waymo. The two firms have been locked in a dispute since February, when Waymo sued the ride hailing service for allegedly stealing proprietary information pertaining to Waymo's autonomous vehicle technology. The case revolves around former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski who, prior to departing from the company to found his own that would eventually be acquired by Uber, downloaded 14,000 "highly confidential and proprietary design files" from Waymo servers.

Super confident GM says its driverless cars will hit city streets by 2019


General Motors President Dan Ammann made a rather bold statement today: In less than two years, autonomous Chevy Bolts will be driving around busy city streets. "If we continue on our current rate of change, we will be ready to deploy this technology in large scale in the most complex environments in 2019," Ammann said at a press and investor event in San Francisco, reported the San Francisco Chronicle. SEE ALSO: Lyft now has permission to test self-driving cars on California's roads To help realize its driverless dreams, General Motors purchased the autonomous driving company Cruise Automation in 2016, and there are now some 1,200 GM employees working in the auto manufacturer's self-driving division. This automated technology is being built into the Chevy Bolt, which is the company's affordably priced (around $30,000) all-electric vehicle. For the month of October, the Bolt even eclipsed the Tesla Model S as the most sold all-electric vehicle in the U.S. (however, Tesla still leads in sales for the year).

Self-driving cars: Hollywood wants to entertain you while the car drives itself


Waymo and Lyft are teaming up. Warner Bros. vision of what the interior of a self-driving car with augmented reality could look like if configured to be like the Batmobile (Photo: Warner Bros./Intel) LOS ANGELES -- If your car is doing the driving, how will you pass the time while you travel? If the entertainment industry has its way, you'll be watching its latest movies and TV on a big screen inside your self-driving car. Maybe you'll engage augmented reality or play video games. Hollywood is starting to take a serious look at what could be a huge opportunity in a new age of self-driving cars: Seizing a big chunk of the time that people used to spend behind the steering wheel to get them to focus on entertainment.

GM Demos Robocars in San Francisco

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Cruise Automation, the self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, has taken observers on rides in a more challenging environment than rival Waymo chose for a similar demonstration a few weeks ago. On Tuesday, Cruise sent a few select journalists through the busy streets of San Francisco. Today, it sent investment analysts as well. Waymo, for its part, conducted its first public rides at a test facility and soon afterward, in the sedate suburban streets of Chandler, Ariz. Both companies deployed versions of GM's Chevrolet Bolt, an all-electric car that can drive an impressively long way on a single charge.