News emerged from India over the weekend that police had arrested an Uber driver, identified as Shiv Kumar Yadav, over the alleged raping of a female passenger.
Police had made it clear that they also intended to pursue legal action against Uber for failing to run a proper background check on the driver prior to his recruitment.
Now, The Economic Times reports that Uber has been banned in Delhi, the capital territory of India. “The services of Uber have been blacklisted. We have just issued an order saying Uber’s activities stand banned in Delhi,” Special Commissioner of Delhi Transport Department Satish Mathur said.
Related to this case, the spokesperson added that Uber had been “misleading customers” by offering a local taxi service while only holding a so-called “All India” permit designed to cover the transportation of passengers between states. In effect, this should preclude drivers from ferrying passengers from point-to-point within the city.
That may or may not prove to be something of a technicality in any legal wrangles, but it’s clear that Uber will have an uphill battle ahead to continue operating in the nation’s capital.
When pressed on whether other existing e-hail taxi companies, such as Taxi-for-Sure and Ola, would be given the same treatment, Mathur didn’t commit to an answer. What was telling, though, was how the local authorities came to learn about how Uber operates. “Right now, we have banned Uber as we came to know only after this incident about its services in Delhi. We too had to log on to the Internet to know how the company works,” he said.
In the wake of the latest controversy to engulf the e-transport company, CEO Travis Kalanick issued this statement:
“What happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific. Our entire team’s hearts go out to the victim of this despicable crime. We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice and to support the victim and her family in her recovery.
We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs. We will also partner closely with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety here in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology advances to help make New Delhi a safer city for women.”
Uber has previously stated that it “exclusively partners with registered for-hire drivers who have undergone the commercial licensing process, hold government issued IDs, state-issued permits, and carry full commercial insurance.” But it’s clear from the wording in the latest statement that Kalanick is passing the buck back to the local authorities, suggesting that the lack of sufficient background checks stems from failings within the existing licensing programs rather than being directly due to Uber’s vetting process.
Today’s news comes just a week after Uber announced it had grudgingly complied with the Reserve Bank of India’s requirement that every transaction made with an Indian credit card use two-factor authentication (2FA). And while the latest incident has seen Uber banned only in a single region for now, this could serve to kickstart similar bans throughout the country as the winds of Uber-controversy continue to swirl.
Uber has a lot on its plate at the moment, as it faces legislative hurdles in numerous countries, including Germany, France, Thailand and Vietnam. It’s just as well the company raised another $1 billion+, as it will likely need every cent of that to fight increasing resistance on many fronts.