London says it will ban Uber due to "lack of corporate responsibility"

Increasingly controversial tech company now facing larger consequences for its toxic corporate culture

Published September 22, 2017 2:01PM (EDT)

    (AP/Eric Risberg)
(AP/Eric Risberg)

Ride-sharing giant Uber will no longer be allowed to operate within London when its license to do so expires at the end of the month, the city's transportation regulatory agency announced Friday morning.

Citing Uber's "approach and conduct" in several areas, Transport for London (TfL) announced that it did not believe the company was "not fit and proper" to continue doing business within the United Kingdom's capital city.

The ruling is a major blow to Uber since London is one of the company's largest regional markets. In regulatory filings, Uber had indicated that more than 3.5 million people used its services within the metropolitan area at least once every 90 days.

TFL said its judgment against Uber was based in part on the company's procedures for handling criminal complaints against drivers. Last month, Uber was accused by a London police investigator of allowing a driver accused of sexual assault to continue driving. Allegedly, the driver assaulted a second person before he was finally fired. In September, TfL told Uber that thousands of its drivers had invalid background check documentation.

Regulators at TfL also cited Uber's usage of a controversial internal software feature called "Greyball" which helped employees mark certain customers as a likely to be affiliated with government overseers and treat them differently, usually blocking them from riding. According to the ruling, Uber had failed to explain why it might use Greyball within London city limits.

The software "could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties," TfL wrote.

Uber said it will appeal the judgment in court. The company denied that Greyball had ever been utilized within the UK "for the purposes cited by TfL."

The TfL judgment against Uber is the latest high-profile setback for the company. This year, Uber admitted that it failed to investigate sexual harassment claims. The ridesharing giant also overturned a long-standing policy against allowing drivers to be tipped after receiving numerous criticisms that it did not pay its drivers adequately and that this was depressing wages for taxi drivers as well.

These and several other controversies led Uber's founding CEO Travis Kalanick to announce his resignation in June.

By Matthew Sheffield

Matthew Sheffield is a national correspondent for The Young Turks. He is also the host of the podcast "Theory of Change." You can follow him on Twitter.

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Gig Economy Local Government London Uber