Rebecca Bernard
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Uber Loses London License Again

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Photo: Pixabay

To say that Uber and the city of London have a rocky relationship is the understatement of the decade. Back in 2017, Uber lost its license to operate in the European capital because of its “lack of corporate responsibility.” This time, the tech giant is losing its license because of a loophole in the app that lets unauthorized drivers get behind the wheel.

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Transport for London is the agency responsible for all of the city’s transportation coordination, and it is responsible for revoking the license. It says that its investigators uncovered 14,000 instances where individuals swapped the profile picture of an authorized Uber driver for their own and take ride fares. In every single case, none of the replacement drivers carried appropriate insurance. About 43 drivers swapped their photos into the app, and two of those drivers were unlicensed by TfL.

While many prospective Uber drivers around the world can just sign up with the app, in London things are a bit more complicated. To ensure all professionals who operate a minicab, serve as a chauffeur, or drive for a rideshare app have proper training and are ready for the demands of driving they must obtain a Private Hire Driver License. Getting it involves submitting a clean driving record for at least three years, demonstrating fluency in English, passing a criminal background check, prove you can read a map, and taking a health screening. It is an involved process, but London hopes that it protects residents and tourists alike when they’re on the capital’s roads.

If the whole “driving with uninsured drivers” thing wasn’t scary enough for London Uber passengers, at least one of the unauthorized drivers had his TfL credentials revoked by the authority. TfL won’t say why their licenses were yanked, but in any case the riders could have been in grave danger. While TfL is raking Uber over the coals by taking away its options in one of its biggest markets, the agency refused to say how many rides the 14,000 “instances” covered, only giving the vague impression that it was a lot of Londoners and tourists.

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London residents shouldn’t start looking for other rideshare options just yet. Uber is going to appeal the ruling, and they are allowed to operate while the appeal is being processed. For its part, it says it’s working on new facial-recognition features to confirm the person behind the wheel is the driver licensed to drive. London won’t give up without a fight, as it’s worried that Uber’s app is so insecure that when one loophole is tied up, another will appear.

On the bright side, maybe the advancements Uber has to put through for London can make trips for riders around the world safer than ever.

News Source: Wall Street Journal, Transport for London