Saturday, November 25, 2017
Friday, November 24, 2017
In a disturbing turn of events, Uber has been tracking oblivious iPhone users even after they removed the application from their phone. Two years ago, the situation escalated to such an extent that CEO Travis Kalanick earned a slap on the wrist from Apple mogul Tim Cook.
The New York Times reported that Kalanick pulled a "fast one" on Apple back in 2015 when the app continued to identify and tag iPhone users after they had deleted it from their phones. In doing so, Kalanick's company violated Apple's privacy guidelines and was nearly booted off the App Store.
The practice is called 'fingerprinting,' which Uber used on iPhones initially as a fraud-prevention method. It is a piece of code that identifies a specific iPhone, locates it, and remembers it. Uber hoodwinked Apple engineers by geofencing Apple's Cupertino headquarters to hide this code, but Cook & Co. soon discovered the deception. The whole debacle resulted in an awkward face-to-face meeting for Kalanick at Apple headquarters back in 2015 where Uber was forced to comply with Apple's regulations.
Thursday, November 23, 2017
While no Silicon Valley company is without sin, Uber seems to have plumbed new depths of corporate depravity. There is so much fundamentally rotten at the company’s core that it’s nearly impossible to imagine that new-ish CEO Dara Khosrowshahi can disinfect and rehabilitate a culture gone horribly wrong.
Khosrowshahi’s tenure is already turning into an international apology tour. The latest mea culpa, of course, is that the company covered up a hack of 57 million user accounts in 2016. Hacks happen to the best of companies, alas. But failing to notify the affected account holders is grossly negligent. And paying the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet about it, according to Reuters, is simply unfathomable.
In his apology blog post, Khosrowshahi seems to have forgotten to mention the payment, which was also reported by Bloomberg.
“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Khosrowshahi wrote. “While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes. We are changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make and working hard to earn the trust of our customers.”
Khosrowshahi fired the company’s chief security officer and a deputy. The Recorder reported that the deputy was in fact in-house lawyer Craig Clark. We wonder if new Uber general counsel Tony West has reported for duty yet? Welcome to the team, Tony! Otherwise, the executive suite remains a relatively empty place these days.
This latest scandal comes as Khosrowshahi is having to grovel before London authoritiesto get the company’s license restored there. Regulators there don’t seem to trust Uber after years of bad faith and bullying. Surprise! That lack of trust extends to countless other jurisdictions around the world that became fed up with the take-no-prisoners tactics of disgraced former CEO Travis Kalanick.
Kalanick, you’ll recall, was forced out of his own company following a massive internal investigation regarding the company’s culture of sexual harassment. And that investigation came as the company was being sued for allegedly stealing autonomous vehicle intellectual property from Google’s Waymo unit.
Oh, gee, what else? Is it unfair to dredge up things like an executive threatening a journalist? The Uber driver that raped a passenger in India? The Greyball technology the company used to dupe regulators? Booking fake rides to disrupt its competitor Lyft? Spying on passengers using its “God View” technology?
Uber can expect a colonoscopy from regulators over the latest scandal. But why should the company get any more chances at this point? The fact that investors have pumped billions of venture capital into this morality swamp isn’t really a justification for its existence. And neither is our addiction to heavily subsidized cab rides.
I’m sure the new CEO is sincere about being sorry. At this point, I think we’re all a bit sorry for anything we did to support Uber along the way. But now the rest of us have a duty to vote with our feet and wallets by walking away from Uber and leaving it to wither and fade away
Source : Venturebeat.com
TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
Letter To The Editor: TfL Threatened Me With Temporary Unemployment Over Late DBS Certificate, Unless I Paid More
I was given one option once my old licence expired:
I had to attend TPH's office in southwark and sign a form to obtain a Temporary Measure Licence, but before doing so it was made a mandatory that I joined the "update service" costing a further £13 (although I had paid the full amount required to re-licence) ...."or I would not be licensed to continue working"
I contacted my appointed GLA member who duly emailed TFL about my issue and was emailed with all the facts I state above.
I find it disgusting how Uber has a completely different "arrangement" to me as a licensed taxi driver who has no prior criminal record and as this "record" has rolled over 10 times in 3 yearly stages over the years (not counting the 2 & 3/4 years knowledge) as opposed to new private hire drivers applying to TFL in their droves from places that may not be willing to divulge prior records due to filing inadequacies or from corrupted war torn regions who are given the freedom to continue to work unconditionally or until the dots of acceptability are presumably joined up somehow? (and that is another story)
Every Licensed London Taxi driver has a history.... 'The Knowledge'... which is a long time based characterisation of every applicant.... new Private hire drivers do not.
As we who have completed the knowledge process know it is more than just showing you can find your way around London as you are tested on characteristics over a long period of time which allows licensing authorities time to study suitability and measure character and fortitude and all on a time linked CRB system and creates a license of value for those knowledge students who have taken years to obtain and will truly value and would never wish to jeopardise.
Compare that to the overwhelming numbers of out of the blue private hire applicants who will try to make some kind of a living from being lost in a world capital city and dangerously gaze at a windscreen sat nav device and hold a no value license to work which is given to them for the payment of a fee.
There have always been serious implications as to how private hire drivers can honestly be vetted over a staggeringly short period of time-lapsed investigative study, but to now allow driver an non-investigated working period before potentially uncovering serious character faults and latterly barring them is a scandal and must stop before any further crimes are committed.
TFL have a duty of public care and must do their job properly as this scandal is truly astonishing and unchecked drivers with no history must not be allowed to hold any form of private hire license until satisfactory checking is completed.... no compromises.
greenbadgejohn (on twitter)
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
FOI reveals Transport for London repeatedly renewed £2m consultancy contract over 7 years without getting rival bids
Transport for London has defended the repeated extension of a consultancy contract worth almost £2m over a seven year period without asking rivals to tender for the work.
In October 2010 the capital’s transport agency hired the contractor to provide a staff member who would “assist the TfL senior leadership team” during their work on the Horizon programme which was tasked to slash costs in TfL’s support functions.
The initial contract was worth £122,980 and covered “targeted senior executive leadership facilitation, support and coaching for the TfL leadership team, including the Commissioner and the Chief Officers.”
TfL says the work was awarded following “a search of the market,” however the relationship has been extended several times over the following seven years, each time without alternative suppliers being asked to tender.
Each of the renewals was approved following the production of a ‘single source request’ document which self-exempts public bodies from tendering contracts.
The first extension came in February 2011, just 4 months after the initial agreement was signed, with further extensions in August and October of the same year.
The document approving the second extension justifies the failure to openly tender the work on the grounds that other suppliers “would not have the existing knowledge of TfL, the Horizon programme, the expertise and familiarity or trusting relationship with the individual Directors in the Leadership team.”
In August 2012 an uncontested extension worth £250,000 was approved on the grounds that “a decision to put this activity out for tender would inevitably have postponed the delivery of Project Horizon”.
The document added that proceeding without the support of an external contractor “would have meant progressing Project Horizon without effectively organising or coordinating Chief Officer input, leading to a sub-optimal conclusion and/or delay to the project.”
Eleven months later TfL justified a decision not to put a further extension, worth £162,000, out to tender “as it may result in a loss of continuity in the development of individuals”.
The relevant approval document also states that the additional work being approved was “needed to provide the continuous support that is required by the Commissioner.”
An extension worth £175,500 was signed off in October 2014 to allow the contractor “to assist the Commissioner direct and develop an effective TfL leadership team and to support the team so that he can lead TfL effectively.”
It also justified the decision not to tender the work on the grounds that “it may result in a loss of continuity in the development of individuals”.
Further extensions followed July 2015, March 2016, October 2016, March 2017 and, most recently, in October 2017.
A freedom of information request shows that over the seven year period to October 2017 the contractor was paid £1.74m. The latest extension is worth a further £210,000.
The services provided span the terms of former TfL Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and successor Mike Brown. TfL’s top post comes with a salary in excess of £300,000 and a host of in-house support staff.
Defending the consultancy contract, a TfL spokesperson said the contractor in question “has provided advice and support to the TfL leadership team for a number of major organisational change programmes to deliver a range of improvements and significant financial savings.
“The current programme is delivering £4bn of savings to 2021/22, reducing our operating costs for the first time in our history.”
However Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon said the agency’s decision to repeatedly roll over the contract uncontested “for so many years raises some fundamental questions about TfL’s transparency, let alone its commitment to value for money.”
She added: “Contracts such as this should be open for examination and regularly put out to tender.”
The most recent renewals appear to undermine efforts by Mayor Sadiq Khan to slash costs within TfL in order to help fund his freeze fares and meet the challenges posed by the axing of TfL’s Government grants.
Last year Mr Khan ordered the agency to carry out “a fundamental review” of management layers, renegotiate all contracts, freeze recruitment “for all but the most essential roles” while “significantly cutting the most expensive of the existing circa 3,000 agency contractors.”
Commenting on the FOI’s revelations, Labour AM Tom Copley said: “We’ve had a commitment from the Mayor to reducing consultancy costs, TfL must now follow through.
“At a time when TfL are having to tighten their purse strings because the government are removing their operational grant, it begs the question whether this is value for money.”
Source : MayorWatch.co.uk