Uber’s London license restored by court; says safety issues resolved

We’ve this morning seen Uber’s London license restored by a court ruling, allowing the app to continue operating after a 2017 ban was overturned …

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Uber has twice had its license to operate in London revoked by the regulatory body over safety and fraud concerns.

Transport for London (TfL) requires private taxi companies to re-apply for their license every five years. Uber was told back in 2017 that its license would not be renewed, giving the company just one week’s notice of the decision.

TfL’s statement said that the company posed a threat to public safety and security for a number of reasons, including:

  • Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
  • Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained.
  • Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.
  • Its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London – software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.

Uber introduced new safety measures, and mounted a legal challenge which saw it get a 15-month extension that was subsequently extended by a further two months. At the end of that period, its license was officially revoked.

That was far from the end of it, however. Uber filed an appeal in court, and TfL rules meant that it was able to continue operating until the result of that case.

Uber’s London license restored by court

The court has today ruled that Uber has addressed the areas of concern, and is now a ‘fit and proper’ entity to be granted a license to operate. BBC News reports.

The ride-hailing giant will be granted a new licence to work in the capital, nearly a year after TfL rejected its application over safety concerns.

It ends uncertainty for the 45,000 drivers who use the taxi app in London.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court said Uber was now a “fit and proper” operator “despite historical failings”.

One of the main concerns raised by TfL was a flaw in Uber’s system that allowed unauthorised people to upload their photographs to legitimate drivers’ accounts, which then allowed them to pick up passengers.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that 24 drivers shared their accounts with 20 others which led to 14,788 rides.

Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said: “It was not what we would do now. It was inadequate, we could have done better.”

Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram said he took Uber’s “track-record of regulation breaches” into account but said it had made efforts to address failings and had improved standards.

“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,” he said.

CNBC’s Ryan Browne has tweeted that the court has granted Uber an 18-month license, potentially leading to a renewed battle in 2022.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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