India rape case sees Uber banned in Delhi

8 Dec 2014

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The alleged rape of a woman in Delhi by an Uber driver is just the latest in a long line of high-profile stories on the US$40bn-valued company.

On Friday night a woman passenger of an Uber cab claimed she was raped by the driver, with a lengthy search leading to the arrest of a suspect on Sunday.

And now Delhi has joined the list of cities throughout the world looking to rid itself of the ride-sharing service, today announcing it's banned.

“Upon being notified of this incident, our team immediately provided the local authorities with all relevant details,” said Uber in a statement in response to the rape claims. It also said it passed over key information such as driver ID, route information and other such details.

However according to a report by Huffington Post in India, this may not indeed be true. In an article called ‘Delhi Uber Rape Case Reveals Shocking Gaps – Driver Didn't Have Permit For Cabs’, police sources revealed that the driver did not have a commercial badge required to drive a cab in Delhi and had never been verified by the cab company, even though he has been driving with the firm for more than six months.

"We started with a completely clueless situation," said Madhur Verma, deputy commissioner of police in North Delhi. "Uber did not have any information on the whereabouts of the cab or the driver."

Uber not responding fast enough

The driver allegedly took the victim to a remote location when realising she was asleep – he also switched off his phone. He was subsequently identified and found by police and Verma claims that Uber dropped the ball in the initial hours of the pursuit, with police receiving information hours after their search of the suspect had begun.

“Safety is our #1 priority and in India, Uber 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,” said the company, in stark contrast to what Indian authorities are claiming.

Every violation by Uber will be evaluated and we will go for legal recourse,” said Verma, saying police would take legal advice before opting to press a criminal or civil case. "They were not properly managed," he is quoted as saying elsewhere.

The obligatory recap of past problems at the young company seems to pale in comparison to such a grievous situation, but is needed nonetheless.

Uber has been lambasted for using its ‘God View’, revealing personal information of customers, as a party trick. It has had to apologise for claiming that smear campaigns against critical journalists is the way forward. Other journalists have been warned of the power of Uber decision-makers, and that accessing personal files is always a risk. 

Uber has also faced criticism for its hiring policies and sexist marketing campaigns in some parts of the world. Also, major cities such as Toronto and Berlin have campaigned against the service being available in their jurisdictions.

Delhi’s latest move to get rid of the service is but one, clearly disgusting, chapter of unsavoury stories relating to the company.

"The transport department has banned all activities related to providing of any transport service by www.uber.com with immediate effect. The department has also blacklisted the company from providing any transport service in the NCT of Delhi in future," the Delhi government said in a statement.

 

Delhi image, via Shutterstock

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Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com