Uber said Friday that it has concluded an investigation of New York City general manager Josh Mohrer for alleged privacy violations and has “taken disciplinary actions” against him.
Uber began looking into Mohrer 10 days ago after BuzzFeed’s Johana Bhuiyan reported that Mohrer had accessed her Uber travel data without her permission on multiple occasions. In one instance earlier this month, Bhuiyan arrived for a meeting with Mohrer at Uber’s New York headquarters in Long Island City to find him waiting for her. “There you are,” she recalled him telling her. “I was tracking you.”
Reached Friday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Uber declined to comment on any specifics of the “disciplinary actions” or discuss what might have prompted them other than the BuzzFeed report. She also declined to comment on the timing of the investigation or whether Uber, which is reportedly in talks to raise another $1 billion, has faced pressure from investors to clean up its act. Mohrer will retain his job as general manager for New York City; the spokeswoman declined to comment on how or whether the “disciplinary actions” will affect his role.
Mohrer has been a notable hindrance for Uber’s communications team. Earlier this year, he was implicated in several scandals in which Uber employees ordered and canceled rides from its competitors. He also has a history of tweeting rashly and aggressively; he once harrangued a woman on Twitter after she complained about Uber and has frequently made disparaging comments about reporters and critical media coverage. Despite all this, Mohrer has grown New York City into Uber’s largest market and is thought to be in the inner circle of the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick. Mohrer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Revelations about potential Uber privacy violations came as the company was already under fire for the comments of another executive, Emil Michael, who suggested hiring opposition researchers to dig up dirt on journalists, according to another Buzzfeed report. Both Michael and Kalanick have since apologized for those comments, although the CEO hasn’t discussed any disciplinary measures against Michael. The spokeswoman declined to comment further on his case.
Over the past two weeks, Uber has made several attempts to regain trust in its business and privacy policies. The same day as Uber began investigating Mohrer, it published a post on its blog explaining that “Uber has a strict policy prohibiting all employees at every level from accessing a rider or driver’s data.” The only exception to that rule, the post added in a line that raised many eyebrows, was “for a limited set of legitimate business purposes.” Two days after that, Uber said it had recruited Harriet Pearson, a partner at law firm Hogan Lovells, to work with its privacy team and review its practices.
According to a statement released by the company on Friday, the Hogan Lovells review is “already underway” and will evaluate “our privacy policies and practices, including employee training and compliance.”