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A former Uber security manager says an espionage team inside the ride-hailing service used former CIA agents to help the company spy on its rivals overseas.
The testimony in a San Francisco courtroom Tuesday comes amid revelations that federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that Uber deployed an espionage team to plunder trade secrets from its rivals. That has triggered a delay in a high-profile federal trial over whether the beleaguered ride-hailing service stole self-driving car technology from a Google spinoff.
Under questioning, Richard Jacobs, Uber's manager of global intelligence, said that Uber hired several contractors that employed former CIA agents to help the ride-hailing service infiltrate its rivals' computers. Jacobs said the surveillance occurred overseas.
Jacobs was Uber's manager of global intelligence from March 2016 until he was fired seven months ago. His lawyer subsequently wrote a 37-page letter summarizing allegations that Uber used an espionage team to steal its competitors' trade secrets and tried to conceal the misconduct by using computers and other devices designed to leave no digital trails.
A federal criminal investigation into alleged espionage at Uber has indefinitely delayed a trial over whether the beleaguered ride-hailing service stole self-driving car technology from Waymo, a spinoff from Google.
A former security manager for Uber testified in San Francisco on Tuesday that he believed the ride-hailing service had set up a secret unit to steal trade secrets from its rivals overseas. He didn't specify which competitors that Uber had been targeting.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup described the allegations that surfaced in a Justice Department investigation as "scandalous."
It's the latest bit of intrigue surrounding Uber during the past year.
Waymo's lawsuit accusing Uber of stealing the technology had been scheduled to begin next Monday. On Tuesday, Alsup delayed it so Waymo can have more time to gather evidence.