With support from the police, Uber gets its London license renewed

With so much support from the British police, it’s hardly surprising that Uber has conveniently been ruled “fit and proper” to get its license back in London.

By Aimee Pearcy , written on September 28, 2020

From The News Desk

In November last year, Transport for London (TfL) took away Uber’s license for a second time after it was “found to be not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence”. Apparently now it's suddenly "fit and proper" again.

According to the report, the license was revoked following a “pattern of failures placed passenger safety and security at risk”. One of the key issues mentioned was a change to Uber's systems that allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts and pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver. This breach meant that over 14,000 trips were uninsured, and some passengers were taking trips with unlicensed drivers. 

A ban would have been a huge blow for Uber given that London is its largest market in Europe. Uber has argued that it has since resolved these issues, and today, a judge has restored its London operating license. 

“Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV (private hire vehicle) operator’s licence,” Judge Tan Ikram said in his written verdict.

When it comes to Uber, “historical failings” is the understatement of the century. And yet, this outcome is hardly surprising -- especially given the ruling a couple of weeks ago that saw an Uber safety driver charged with homicide for a fatal crash back in 2018. Meanwhile, Uber got away scot-free. 

London needs an alternative to black cabs. But this isn’t it. If a London cabbie driver had flouted the rules like Uber, it’s impossible to imagine any other scenario than having their license completely revoked. Unsurprisingly, it’s one rule for Uber, and another for everyone else.

I’m beginning to wonder how evil Uber actually has to be to warrant proper punishment. But given that a former member of the CIA was employed as Head of Safety, Risk & Compliance for Community Operations in the UK and Ireland, I guess the answer to that question is: very.

Earlier this month, The Times revealed that Uber hands over 2,000 pieces of intelligence a year to the British police.

Mark Collins, the chief constable of Dyfed-Powys, has even written to TfL in defence of Uber:  

“Uber responds to over 2,000 requests per year from the Metropolitan Police alone and this has greatly increased Uber’s Law Enforcement Team with points of contact in all UK police forces. The loss of data and support provided in relation to local, regional and national county lines, human trafficking and child sexual exploitation investigations would, undoubtedly, hinder our ability to safeguard and protect vulnerable people.”

With so much support from the British police, it’s hardly surprising that Uber has conveniently been ruled “fit and proper” to get its license back in London -- even though there’s absolutely nothing “fit and proper” about it.

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