Uber Technologies lost its licence in London for the second time in less than three years, putting one of its biggest markets outside of the US at risk after the transport regulator said it failed to address safety concerns, reported Bloomberg.
In a statement, Transport for London (TfL) said that Uber’s app has a vulnerability that allowed thousands of unauthorized users to pose as Uber drivers by uploading their photos to licenced accounts.
At least 14,000 trips involved drivers who weren’t who the riders thought they were, including some who had revoked licences and dismissed as well as suspended drivers were also able to create an Uber account and carry passengers, said the TfL.
Uber had been operating on a two-month licence that ran out this week, the latest extension while TfL reviewed changes the firm was making to the way it operates.
When the company was initially deemed not ‘fit and proper’ to operate in September 2017, a trial did not take place until June 2018, during which Uber was allowed to continue to accept ride requests.
Uber’s rapid growth in London was seen as a success story for the company’s expansion outside the US but the city has since become a battleground with the world’s largest start-up clashing with local regulators and the iconic black cab industry.
The regulator’s refusal to sign off on Uber’s operations throws doubt over whether the company, which has 45,000 licenced London drivers has any significant future in Britain.
In its original decision against Uber two years ago, the TfL said that the ride-hailing company failed to do adequate background checks on drivers and report serious criminal offences. TfL also took issue with Uber software called ‘Greyball’ that blocked government officials attempts to catch law-breaking drivers.
Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi, then just weeks into the job, made a number of changes to win over regulators and the public, ultimately securing a temporary operating permit.
TfL said that Uber has made a number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems since the June 2018 decision to allow it to keep operating. Uber has also faced a series of lawsuits across Europe, including a UK employments rights case over how its drivers are treated, which it lost.