Uber’s New Sin, and it’s a Doozy


The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, “Ataroth,Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon— the land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.” (Numbers 32: 1-5 NIV.)

So here’s the story: Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt to the land the Lord was going to give them, a land Abraham and Jacob once inhabited, but two tribes came to Moses and didn’t want to cross into the Promised Land because they found what would work for them as livestock farmers without having to fight for it.

They were willing to give up any inheritance God was going to give them in this new land just to stay here in place.

 Then Moses said to them, “If you will do this—if you will arm yourselves before the Lord for battle and if all of you who are armed cross over the Jordan before the Lord until he has driven his enemies out before him— then when the land is subdued before the Lord, you may return and be free from your obligation to the Lord and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the Lord.

“But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32: 20-23 NIV.)

So here’s the story: “Uber Technologies Inc. on Tuesday revealed it paid hackers $100,000 in an effort to conceal a data breach affecting 57 million accounts one year ago, a disclosure that adds to a string of scandals and legal problems for the world’s most highly valued startup.”

Their sins found them out. I suppose they’re lucky because they didn’t lie to God, just to we fellows who innocently used Uber service imagining that what information we gave to Uber about ourselves would stay confidential. In the role of the Reubenites and Gadites, Uber promised its riders this confidentiality but knew about a hack that gave “names, emails and phone numbers of millions of riders, about 600,000 drivers’ license numbers.” I suppose we were lucky the hackers didn’t get our credit card and social security numbers. But with the information they gained this is an easy workaround.

“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi in a statement regarding the breach and coverup. “While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes.”

A mistake? Really? That’s all it is? It wasn’t their sin to be hacked, unless they were sloppy about keeping customer information confidential. It was a clear sin, an unconscionable disrespect of customers to cover up their failure that put every customer in harm’s way.

Uber has been and is in a number of controversies, including being sued by Google for stealing F secrets about self-driving cars. Uber is one of those startup internet companies that changed the world, in this case, hailing a taxi. In San Francisco in 2009 Garret Camp and Travis Kalanik created an app where someone in need of a ride could connect with a person who would give them a ride. For a fee, of course. And now it is a $60 Billion company. Like many major companies (i.e., Google) it wants to become king of the mountain. Along the way it has ignored many sins of the company so it could establish itself as king.

What we are witnessing is what happens when morality is not part, the fundamental part, of your business plan. A common sin, it appears.