Reasons not to use Uber
We should not accept the promotional term "sharing economy" for companies like Uber. That is spin. A more accurate term is "piecework subcontractor economy".Uber is a big advance in massive surveillance. Unlike a taxi, an Uber car can't be used anonymously. You can't pay cash. It also requires use of nonfree software, which mistreats the user.
Because I reject technology that mistreats me, I will never order or pay for an Uber car. Because Uber threatens to eliminate the taxis that are acceptable to use, I go beyond that: I will not let someone order an Uber car for me. How about joining me?
Abuse of Drivers
Comparison to Real Taxis
- Uber collects data about passengers, then uses the data to profile them in various ways.
- Uber requires passengers to identify themselves, both to order a ride and to pay. (Uber offers some users in a few places the option of paying cash, but they are still tracked and identified when ordering the ride.)
- It also records where you get the ride and where you go with it.
- Uber can track who has a one-night stand. In fact, it did so.
Uber has started tracking users' movements
before and after rides.
In August 2017, Uber
it possible to turn that extra tracking off, but it is still
enabled by default, and most customers won't think to turn it
That is only a tiny step forward.
whose accounts have been stolen.
Uber hacked Lyft's ride-management server with phony accounts in
people that were driving for Lyft.
- Uber plans to snoop on users' locations and contacts all the time. Uber has the technical possibility to do this because its app is nonfree: it is controlled by Uber, not by the user. In addition, snooping depends on a nonfree operating system. With a free system, the user could tell the system to lie to the Uber app.
- The US government can get those records, and any lawsuit (such as a divorce lawsuit) can subpoena them.
- Uber gave the US government data on millions of customers.
- Uber's clever policy of not being directly responsible for anything that goes wrong extends to harassment by drivers, and its practice of identifying passengers enables drivers to find out who the passenger is. This makes some women scared to use Uber. This problem comes directly out of the practices listed above that mistreat all users of Uber.
- Uber executives and staff have stalked passengers in various ways. If you take an ordinary taxi and pay cash, it will generate no records associated with you — except in New York City where the government might apply face recognition to identify your photo in real time.
To recover our privacy and make
democracy safe, we need to redesign digital systems so that they
do not collect information about people in general. First step, don't
help any new ones gain a foothold.
- Uber requires customers to run a nonfree program (an app). As always, a nonfree program tramples its users' freedom. I'm not talking about the software that Uber runs in its servers; that does not directly affect customers. If some of that software is nonfree, it tramples Uber's freedom, but not the customers' freedom. The nonfree software and digital services that Uber requires its users to use attack their freedom in various ways.
- The Uber app requires running other nonfree software (in the case of Android, Google Play).
- Uber is trying again to force all customers to agree to arbitration of disputes — rather than lawsuits.
Abuse of Drivers
- Guber drivers are suing Guber, accusing it of programming its software to cheat them and passengers through misinformation.
- Uber uses psychological tricks to manipulate drivers to do things that are against their interests, such as spend more time driving around unpaid.
- Uber has repeatedly underpaid its drivers.
- Women working at Uber encounter so much harassment that it chases them out.
- The CEO of Guber insulted drivers, saying it was their fault that they went bankrupt, not Guber's fault for paying them peanuts.
- Uber is pressing drivers to disclose what they are paid by competitors of Uber (drivers often work for more than one company).
- Uber pretends it only operates a marketplace, but in fact it manipulates the marketplace. It shows drivers only a massaged version of actual demand.
Uber pays drivers peanuts; we should call it "Goober", or rather "Guber".
Guber is an
unregulated near-monopoly, so it can cut rates for drivers
Drivers are starting to complain that they're left with little money for their work.
GUber can arbitrarily cut drivers' pay, and they need to work 15 hours a day. Some are trying to unionize, but it won't be easy.
- The low wages paid by Uber and Lyft have driven some cab and limo drivers to suicide.
- Uber and Lyft blame state governments for eliminating cities' power to regulate those companies.
- Guber has organized in NYC something reminiscent of a company union for its drivers, except it isn't even a union.
- Internal data from Guber show that it really pays drivers peanuts.
Uber claims its drivers are independent contractors, but
not very independent, since they are
allowed to contract for other ride companies.
By the way, it is clear that Juno has the same basic injustice as Uber: customers must run nonfree software and identify themselves. Uber is more nasty and arrogant, but both of them are enemies of our freedom. We should should reject both of them completely.
Uber and Lyft Drivers' Median Hourly Wage Is Just $3.37.
In other words, half make even less.
Uber's Underpayment of Drivers Keeping It Afloat, Report Finds.
We can protect our freedom by protecting drivers' pay rates.
- Uber is selling low and losing money to destroy its competitors. If you are a short-term thinker, you will be delighted to take advantage of this — until it controls the market and squeezes you forever.
- Uber has already made arrangements not to pay US taxes if it does start making a profit.
- Uber in China tracks drivers and actively pressures them to stay away from protests. The company could not prevent Chinese repression, but upholding it in this way is complicity.
Comparison to Real Taxis
- When taxi drivers struck to protest the troll's partial Muslim ban, Uber took the opportunity to undercut the strike.
- Cities and even public service campaigns are outsourcing transportation to Uber, which is a form of privatization of public transit. This excludes poor people, and subjects those who do use the service to being tracked. Lyft is no better than Uber in this regard.
the regulations that cover charging passengers for making cars wait.
This decision itself may not be objectionable. Taxis typically charge
for making them wait. But that regulation is set by a city agency
which is at least somewhat responsible to the people. Uber is a
business headquartered somewhere else, which accepts no responsibility
to the people of any city.
We should not allow a company to privatize the making of the regulations that create our social order.
- Uber plans to do away with human cab drivers. It would be easy for a non-plutocratic government to prohibit this, and that's what every country ought to do, unless/until every person gets an adequate basic income so people don't need to be employed.
With real taxis, you can flag one on the street or phone in any
fashion; you can pay cash; you can be anonymous.
Beware of thinking of Uber as one more option in addition to real
taxis. At the moment, that's true, but if Uber is a big success,
real taxis could disappear.
Then what will you do, if you don't want to tell Big Brother where you are going?
- Uber systematically discriminates against passengers that are black, and tends to cheat women. The study does not demonstrate how the discrimination and cheating occur, but does demonstrate the statistical phenomenon.
- Uber investigated a lawyer handling a lawsuit against Uber's policy of surge pricing, using methods that may reach the domain of illegality.
Guber programmed its system for special treatment of people that
might be investigating accusations of violating municipal
regulations. The special treatment was that the system would
a car was coming, but no car would ever arrive.
Uber has the ability to do this because it forces all its clients to identify themselves — which is fundamentally unjust.
Uber's autonomous cars
violate traffic laws.
Uber tries to put the blame on human safety monitors, who could in principle intervene to stop this.
That's the general Uber attitude: profits to the company, burdens to the drivers.
I would guess that the safety monitors would be hard-pressed to react fast enough to prevent these maneuvers — which would mean that they are an excuse and a scapegoat, not a real safety system.
- Uber operated a team to spy on competitors and to "impede, obstruct or influence" legal investigations, according to an ex-manager who was involved with the team.
- Uber blames state governments for eliminating cities' power to regulate such companies.
Uber imposes arbitration on customers
for all complaints, including rape by drivers,
and this covers up the prevalence of the problem.
No company should be allowed to require its customers or its workers (whether labeled "employee" or "independent contractors") to use arbitration instead of going to court.
- Uber's seven-step plan to move into a city and dominate it.
- Uber's corporate motto is "win by playing dirty".
Uber seems to be harassing its competitor, Lyft, by
scheduling rides and canceling them.
Lyft doesn't do all the nasty things that Uber does, but it does the fundamental unacceptable thing: it makes passengers identify themselves.
- Uber's CEO collaborates with the loser.
Uber is losing a lot of money every year, but we cannot tell how much
because it releases only vaguely
defined accounting information,
insufficient to tell its real losses.
This is crucial because it can't keep this up indefinitely. Some day it will have to raise its prices quite a bit. If Uber customers patronize Uber so much now that its competitors disappear before that day, they will regret their actions when the price goes up.
- Guber reportedly shows "phantom" cars on the map, giving would-be passengers the impression that a car is available close by. Guber denies doing this, but I don't trust Guber.
- Guber appears to have stopped displaying phantom cars, without admitting they existed.
Journalist Sarah Lacy writes about how an Uber executive
said he would
punish her critical journalism by using lies to smear her family life.
It was the culmination of Uber's years of contempt for the company's
drivers and passengers.
By the way, I don't see anything wrong in offering taxi rides driven
by attractive models of either sex. However, this need not and should
not be accompanied by Uber-style contempt towards women (and men).
Copyright (c) 2014-2016 Richard Stallman Verbatim copying and redistribution of this entire page are permitted provided this notice is preserved.