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Photo: Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Uber's former chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, was charged Thursday for obstructing justice and concealing a felony for his role in attempting to cover up a 2016 hack that compromised the data of millions of Uber customers and drivers.

The big picture: The hack didn't become public until a year after it happened, prompting the company's then-new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, to fire Sullivan and some of his deputies for their handling of the incident.

  • Sullivan is now the second former Uber executive to face criminal charges, following self-driving technology expert Anthony Levandowski (for a separate case).

Details: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California revealed the charges in a statement.

  • "Silicon Valley is not the Wild West," U.S. Attorney David Anderson said. "We will not tolerate corporate cover-ups. We will not tolerate illegal hush money payments."
  • If convicted, Sullivan faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the obstruction of justice charge and three years for the concealment of a felony charge.

From Uber:

"We continue to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice’s investigation. Our decision in 2017 to disclose the incident was not only the right thing to do, it embodies the principles by which we are running our business today: transparency, integrity, and accountability."
— Uber spokesperson

From Sullivan:

There is no merit to the charges against Mr. Sullivan, who is a respected cybersecurity expert and former Assistant U.S. Attorney. 
This case centers on a data security investigation at Uber by a large, cross-functional team made up of some of the world’s foremost security experts, Mr. Sullivan included. If not for Mr. Sullivan’s and his team’s efforts, it’s likely that the individuals responsible for this incident never would have been identified at all. From the outset, Mr. Sullivan and his team collaborated closely with legal, communications and other relevant teams at Uber, in accordance with the company’s written policies. Those policies made clear that Uber’s legal department -- and not Mr. Sullivan or his group -- was responsible for deciding whether, and to whom, the matter should be disclosed.  
— Spokesperson for Joe Sullivan

Editor's note: The story has been updated with a statement from Uber and a Sullivan's spokesperson.

Go deeper

Biden introduces top national security team

President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Tuesday at an event introducing the incoming administration's top national security officials, where he told the story of his stepfather being the only one of 900 children at his school in Poland to survive the Holocaust.

What they're saying: "At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the woods in Bavaria. From his hiding place, he heard a deep rumbling sound. It was a tank. But instead of the iron cross, he saw painted on its side a five pointed white star," Blinken said.

Scoop: Trump-backed Perdue says he wouldn’t have certified Georgia 2020 results

Perdue at a December 2020 campaign event in Columbus, Ga. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time, the former Senate Republican told Axios.

  • “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for," he said.

Why it matters: There has been no evidence widespread fraud took place in Georgia's elections last year and the November results were counted three times, once by hand.

Beijing Olympics: These countries have announced diplomatic boycotts

Photo: Zhang Qiang/VCG via Getty Images

Several countries, including Canada and Australia, have announced they will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics to protest human rights abuses committed by China's government.

Driving the news: Leaders have faced pressure from human rights groups and others to boycott the Games, pointing to the ongoing genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region and other abuses.