Pando

Chairman of Uber Military: Tech companies should cooperate with intelligence agencies on encrypted data

This is what happens when you hire the former head of the CIA, kids.

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on January 27, 2016

From The Surveillance Valley Desk

Robert Gates is best known as the former Secretary of Defense and head of the CIA.

More recently, though, he has been enjoying a second career inside the tech industry, joining Uber as the Chairman of their not-at-all-sinister sounding “Uber Military” program.

It was an interesting move — a former political heavyweight joining a tech company. But, as Sarah writes on Pando today, not an unprecedented one.

Still, if Gates’ comments at a recent Politico event are any indication, he still has some way to go before he has fully embraced Uber’s — uh — values.

For one thing, Gates believes the media is “failing to challenge” those who make promises that are “unaffordable [or] illegal.”

Uber, of course, is Silicon Valley’s undisputed king of deliberate lawbreaking and making impractical promises that require huge subsidies to put into effect. And we know from bitter experience what happens when the media calls them out for it. Gates must surely be the only person at Uber who has ever said the words “the media should be more aggressive.”

Now, of course, Gates was talking about the coverage of presidential candidates, not of his own colleagues at Uber.

But, in case he hadn’t made his views clear, the guy who works for a company that threatened a $1m smear campaign against journalists, promises to become the dominant ridesharing company in China and constantly lies to drivers about their earning potential said:

“People are out there making threats and promises that are totally unrealistic, totally unattainable. Either they really believe what they’re saying or they’re cynical and opportunistic and, in a way, you hope it’s the latter, because God forbid they actually believe some of the things that they’re saying.”


And yet, there’s one area on which Gates is in total lockstep with Uber’s top brass: Contempt for Uber privacy.

Talking about how Silicon Valley companies should respond to government requests for data and encryption backdoors, Gates reportedly “called on tech companies to put security ahead of business interests and cooperate with intelligence agencies on encrypted data.”

From your mouth to the Chinese government’s ears, Bob.