Report Reveals Uber Disrupts Local Democracies in the U.S.

The widely popular transportation company, Uber technologies, is being a accused of intentionally undermining local governments in cities across the U.S., according to a report published on Monday by citizens watchdog Public Citizen. 

The report entitled "Disrupting Democracy: How Uber Deploys Corporate Power to Overwhelm and Undermine Local Government" tells the stories of conflicts between Uber Technologies and local governments in eight U.S. cities. 

“When city officials try to enact laws or enforce regulations the company opposes, it fights back political-style campaign tactics and large-scale lobbying,” The Public Citizen report stated. 

In 2015, the ride-hailing company—whose estimated value stands at the US $61 billion—spent between U.S. $420,000 and U.S. $945,000 on pressuring state legislitive officials to endure bills that allow Uber to operate without the stringent regulations applied to traditional taxicabs. 

According to 2014 data compiled by the Washington Post, Uber has hired at least 161 people and multiple lobbying firms to influence legislation. 

“When cities pass laws that Uber opposes, the company commonly seeks to have them preempted with Uber-approved state law or repealed through voter referenda,” the Public Citizen report stated. 

The new research goes on to point out that the company utilizes grassroots campaigning strategies such as petitions, which can generate tens of thousands of signatures, help legitimize their lobbying campaigns. 

Uber’s successful lobbying efforts have defeated several regulations in various states and city across the country, allowing the company to operate largely unregulated or self-regulated.

“Living in a democracy means the people have the power to choose their destiny, and it means local governments must make decisions in the public’s best interest,” the report concluded. “No single company or interest should have the power to use deploy its wealth to overwhelm democracy’s deliberative and decision making processes, the authors of the paper argue.”

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