Regulators in London rejected Uber’s application to renew its license to operate in the city Friday, citing “a lack of corporate responsibility.”
The decision by Transport for London (TfL), the local government transportation agency, means that Uber will be losing its largest market in Europe, according to The New York Times. The permit officially expires Sept. 30.
“Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate,” TfL said in a statement. “TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.”
The regulatory body enumerated four relatively general ways that its conduct demonstrated a lack of “corporate responsibility” and caused “potential public safety and security implications”:
- Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
- Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained.
- Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring (DBS) Service 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.
TfL added that the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act of 1998 empowers businesses with the ability to appeal the decision within 21 days of the announcement.
Uber says it will appeal the decision, and it can operate in the city until it has “exhausted” all of its options.
“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,” said Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, according to TechCrunch. “To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”
Elvidge goes on to defend the company in several ways in the statement. He writes that Uber goes through the same background checks as traditional cab companies, and its technology actually increases safety since each trip is tracked and recorded by GPS.
Elvidge even addresses the ride-sharing giant’s once-secretive tool called Greyball, a proprietary technology that allowed it to evade authorities and skirting regulations imposed by local and national governments. (RELATED: Uber’s Spying Practices Are So Intense The DOJ Is Now Investigating)
Specifically, the tech conglomerate would use data gathered from its Uber app to identify and sidestep officials that sought to catch it in the act of providing its services.
“As we have already told TfL, an independent review has found that ‘greyball’ has never been used or considered in the UK for the purposes cited by TfL,” Elvidge said according to TechCrunch.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan stood up for his fellow public officials, saying that TfL is just appropriately following orders. (RELATED: Judge Rules Uber Drivers In London Must Pass An English Test)
“TfL has been given rules by Parliament and their job is to make sure companies play by the rules,” Khan said Friday morning, according to the radio show LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation). “TfL isn’t anti-private hire vehicle operators, what TfL is against is companies not playing by the rules so customers, members of staff and others should be angry at Uber for not playing by the rules, rather than TfL who are doing their job by making sure companies are playing by the rules.”
London is just the latest city to restrict or eliminate Uber and other ride-sharing services.
Cities like Boston, Las Vegas, Portland, and Paris and countries like Australia, Italy, China and South Korea, have at one point imposed rules that restrict, or altogether ban, the ride-sharing services, often due to the respective officials favoring the local, well-established taxi companies.
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