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Uber on defensive over Trump-links as scores delete app

Kalanick is being criticised for agreeing to sit on Trump's advisory panel [DPA]

Date of publication: 30 January, 2017

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Thousands of Uber users say they are deleting the ride-sharing app after the company used a taxi drivers strike against a Muslim travel ban to make profit.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is facing criticism online for his relationship with President Donald Trump after the administration imposed a temporary ban on travel to the United States from seven majority Muslim countries.

Kalanick said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the 90-day ban could hurt "thousands" of Uber drivers and he would raise his concerns directly with the president during a Friday business advisory group meeting in Washington.

But the co-founder of the ride-sharing service is being criticised for agreeing to sit on the advisory panel, which he defended in his Saturday Facebook post, saying he joined out of the "belief that by speaking up and engaging we can make a difference".

He explained that despite sharing "common ground" with many governments and politicians the company had worked with in dozens of countries, there had been "areas of disagreement" with each of them.

"In some cases we've had to stand and fight to make progress, other times we’ve been able to effect change from within through persuasion and argument," he said.

Kalanick also said in another post that he was emailing Uber drivers telling them Uber would "urge the government to reinstate the right of US residents to travel - whatever their country of origin - immediately".

He added that the company would find a way to compensate and provide legal support to Uber drivers who are stuck overseas for the next three months because they cannot return to the US.

The company also has said it would create a $3 million legal defence fund to help drivers with immigration and translation services.

#DeleteUber

Uber also was criticised for charging less than it could at JFK Airport in New York City as taxi drivers had halted service for an hour on Saturday to protest the ban.

The move was perceived of by some on social media as an effort to profit off the protests as more passengers would need to seek alternatives to cabs. But the company said on Twitter that it had not "meant to break the strike".

Using the hashtag #DeleteUber, Twitter users then urged riders to delete the app and replace it with rival ride-sharing company Lyft, which had responded to Uber's move by saying it would donate one million dollars over the next four years to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The civil group had successfully requested an emergency order approved by a federal judge on Saturday that temporarily bars the US from deporting people from the countries subject to Trump's travel ban.


Agencies contributed to this report.

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