Emerging: London bans Uber over safety and regulatory failures

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Pete Young

Pete Young

"Hi, Natalia, No, that’s the fu..."
Natalia Avdeeva

Natalia Avdeeva

"Thanks, Pete, it does. But if you cli..."
Pete Young

Pete Young

"Hi, Natalia - It looked to me as thou..."

Brandon Killen

"In the final paragraph, there's a lis..."

London’s transport authority has rejected Uber’s application for a renewed operating license, saying that the global ride-hailing service is not a “fit and proper” operator.

Uber can continue operating in London for three weeks while it appeals the decision.

Transport for London (TfL) said that Uber had demonstrated a “lack of corporate responsibility” with potential implications for public safety – citing the company’s approach to reporting criminal offences and obtaining background checks on its drivers.


Uber’s London manager Tom Elvidge said in a statement, “3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision.”

Elvidge disputed all of the reasons TfL gave for its decision, saying that its drivers undergo the same background checks as London’s black cab drivers and that the company closely follows TfL guidelines.

“This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers,” said Elvidge.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, meanwhile, issued a statement supporting the decision.

“Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of safety and security,” he said.

Uber’s controversies

Uber has suffered a series of public-relations setbacks over the past few years. CEO Travis Kalanick resigned earlier this year following accusations of sexual harassment amid reports of a sexist culture at the tech company.

Kalanick was also videoed earlier this year swearing at an Uber driver in a row over pay.

The company also has been criticized for failing to ensure the safety of passengers. Last year, a freedom of information request revealed that there were 32 allegations of rape or sexual assault by Uber drivers reported to London’s Metropolitan Police in 2015.

An employment tribunal also found last year that Uber drivers in the UK qualified as employees, saying that the company must offer them appropriate benefits and maintain the minimum wage.

The company’s use of Greyball software, which can be used to evade regulators, was also noted by TfL in its rejection of a new license.

In April, an investigation by authorities in Portland, Oregon, found that Uber had used the software to evade local government.

Uber have said that it uses Greyball to deter riders who might endanger their drivers.

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United Kingdom
Jack Barton is a staff journalist at WikiTribune where he writes about international law, human rights and finance, whilst covering daily news. He was previously a senior reporter at Law Business Research and has experience covering law and international development, with credits in the Sunday Times, the New Indian Express, and New Statesman online among others. He has an LLM in Human Rights and worked on a UN-funded research project, looking at peace processes.

History for stories "Emerging: London bans Uber over safety and regulatory failures"

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18 April 2018

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19 December 2017

Talk for Story "Emerging: London bans Uber over safety and regulatory failures"

Talk about this Story

  1. Rewrite

    In the final paragraph, there’s a list of recent Uber controversies, which seems fine. It adds some context as to perhaps why London decided to ban Uber. Although it doesn’t seem as though Uber is being banned because their former CEO was exposed as a jerk. Perhaps more relevant information would be other instances where Uber was denied the right to operate in a city, such as in Austin TX or Alaska, or several European countries.

  2. Rewrite

    Good story. Might be interesting to add information about Uber competitors in London. Black cab is mentioned but are there others like Lyft operating in London?

    1. Rewrite

      Yeah I think Lyft is in London and possibly one or two others. There’s definitely an angle to be added there, most of the reaction today has come from pro business/free market advocates who are angry with the decision

  3. Rewrite

    One last thought: Like all companies, Uber isn’t a “they.” It’s an “it.”

    It is not human. It is a thing.

    “Uber have said that they use Greyball to deter riders who might endanger their drivers” should read “Uber has said that it used (or uses) Greyball to deter riders who might endanger its drivers.”

    1. Rewrite

      Thanks Pete, I’ll make all of those changes now. In future feel free to edit mistakes where you spot them but I appreciate you pointing out and explaining.

  4. Rewrite

    Very nicely written, straight and clear.

    A couple of nits: “license” should be “license” (yes, that barbaric Americanization of English)

    In a subhed, controversies is misspelled (missing the first “r”)

    “criticised” should be “criticized”

    Also, beware the difference between “refute” and “rebut.”

    Refute means to prove that something is false or erroneous. We’re not in a position to evaluate the evidence to say Uber disproved TfL’s accusations.

    To rebut is to argue against something. There’s a nice illustration of the distinction on “To rebut is to try to prove something isn’t true, but to refute is to actually prove it isn’t.”

    Many people confuse these words. I’d be tempted to say Uber “disputed” TfL instead.

  5. Rewrite

    A navigation question: When I click on this story on the home page, I don’t go to the article. Instead, I go to a page of Tech news, where I have to scout through a bunch of nearly identical boxes for the one I want, then click a second time.

    If we really feel the need to go to a tech page, rather than straight to the story, could we perhaps make it easy to find by highlighting the headline (say, in another color, like red)?

    Better yet: Take me directly to the story and embed a box in the text pointing out other tech headlines, or a link to the Tech page.


    1. Rewrite

      Hi Pete, do you click on the word “Technology” on the homepage or on the name of the article itself?

      1. Rewrite

        Hi, Natalia – It looked to me as though the word Technology was mapped as a single element with the headline. Does that help? Cheers, Pete

        1. Rewrite

          Thanks, Pete, it does. But if you click on the rest of the headline, does it take you to the story?

          1. Rewrite

            Hi, Natalia,

            No, that’s the funny thing. Clicking anywhere on the hed took me to the Tech page, too (only).

            My guess us that the topic word was supposed to send me to the Tech page, while anywhere else in the headline was supposed to take me to the story. Nit an expert, but ut seems the topic navigation overwrote the whole headline. Cheers, Pete

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