A US federal judge ruled Tuesday that former Uber security chief Joseph Sullivan must face wire fraud charges over his alleged involvement in trying to cover up a 2016 hack that exposed the personal information of 57 million passengers and drivers.
US District Judge William Orrick rejected Sullivan’s claim that prosecutors failed to adequately argue he concealed the hacking to ensure that Uber drivers would not leave and stop paying their service fees. Orrick additionally rejected Sullivan’s claim that only Uber’s then-chief executive, Travis Kalanick, and its general counsel were allegedly deceived.
“Those purported misrepresentations, though not made directly to Uber drivers, were part of a larger scheme to defraud them,” Orriwck wrote in his order.
In December the US Department of Justice (DOJ) added charges of obstruction of justice, misprision of a felony, and wire fraud against Sullivan to an earlier indictment for obstruction of justice. The DOJ claimed that Sullivan arranged to pay two hackers for their silence while trying to conceal the hacking from the app’s users, drivers and the US Federal Trade Commission.
Uber terminated Sullivan’s employment as Chief Security Officer in 2017 after learning about the extent of the data breach. The breach, which occurred in October 2016, included the names and email addresses of over 50 million users and 7 million drivers of the ride-sharing app. Around 600,00 driver’s license numbers were also leaked.
The San Francisco-based company paid $148 million in September 2018 to settle claims by all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., that it was too slow to disclose the hack.