Uber

Transport for London has announced that ride-sharing app Uber will not be re-issued with a new private hire licence when its current one expires at the end of the month. 

The news comes as the local government body responsible for Greater London’s transport system has concluded that Uber was “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence”.

In its statement, TFL said it considers Uber’s approach and conduct to demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.

These include:

  • 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.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement: “I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”

Technology and regulators

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, commented on the news:

“Today’s decision from TfL reflects the scale of the problems currently faced by Uber. For one of the world’s largest public transport services to rescind their license is a damning indictment of the company’s approach to social responsibility and safety.

“However, this feels like a step backwards for London’s claim to be a digital city. Technology has transformed the private car industry and nostalgia for black cabs should restrict tech startups that provide greater access and affordability for customers. The offline era is over, and London needs to embrace its digital future.

“Technology is moving faster than regulators, and this incident shows the need to regulate proactively rather than reactively. This should serve as a wake-up call for City Hall to conduct a full innovation audit and work with the private sector to put in place a forward-looking system of regulation.”

Uber, which employs approximately 40,000 drivers in the capital, said TFL had “caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice” and added it would be challenging the ruling.