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The data breach is Uber's latest regulatory problem. Photo: Eric Gay / AP

In a second court hearing this week, Uber employees testified that a disgruntled former colleague, Richard Jacobs, attempted to extort money from the company when he sensed he was on the verge of getting fired. Jacobs made explosive allegations of misconduct by Uber in a letter he sent the company in May, which the Justice Department sent to the judge presiding over its dispute with Waymo last week.

The big question: As the presiding judge still wants to know, if Uber didn't find merit in the former employee's allegations that it was crossing legal and ethical lines and even believes he sought to extort a payout, then why did Uber agree to hire him as a consultant and pay him a hefty $4.5 million after the fact?

What's next: The trial has been delayed until early February.

More from today's hearing:

  • Angela Padilla, an in-house lawyer at Uber, testified that the former employee was caught exporting emails and other company documents, presumably as evidence for the claims he planned to make about Uber's practices. When confronted, he sent an email to executives with his claims and resigned.
  • According to Padilla, Uber agreed to settle with Jacobs to "take the air out" of his whistleblowing threats. Uber also decided to disclose the letter to the U.S. government after he threatened to do so.
  • "On the surface it looks like you covered it up," said the judge to Padilla. "To me it does not add up."
  • One employee, Mat Henley, testified that Uber's "non-attributable devices" were laptops, set up with temporary virtual machines (VMs) for certain security analysts to do research safely without their activities being tied to Uber's networks. According to him, this was critical to protect employees overseas when researching violent or criminal groups.
  • Henley testified that Jacobs was demoted because of poor work performance, but the company decided to fire him after he began stealing files.
  • He also admitted that Uber used to conduct surveillance on its competitors, but no longer does.
  • Another employee, Nick Gicinto, testified that he did not discuss Waymo or stealing its trade secrets during his trips to Pittsburgh to meet with the autonomous driving team.
  • "There's very little truth in that document," said Gicinto of Jacobs' letter about Uber's practices, adding that Jacobs never brought up any such concerns during his employment at Uber.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

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Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

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Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”