Uber is fighting a London ban in court, arguing that a selfie verification system for drivers makes passengers safer

Kirsty O’Connor – PA Images / Getty ImagesA black cab driver waves a Union Jack flag whilst standing on a taxi on London Bridge, during a protest against TfL and Uber.
  • Uber is fighting for its London future in court this week.
  • The company is expected to argue that it has addressed safety concerns from London’s transport body, Transport for London (TfL), by introducing a new driver verification system.
  • Last year, TfL stripped Uber of its licence for the second time over “safety breaches.” TfL said thousands of drivers were using fake identities when picking up passengers.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Uber will fight a potential London ban in court this week — the last chance the taxi giant has to appeal against the city’s transport body revoking its licence.

The San Francisco-based firm is expected to argue that a new verification system addresses Transport for London’s (TfL’s) concerns that thousands of its drivers were using faking identities to pick up passengers.

The four-day hearing begins on Monday at Westminster Magistrates’ court. Uber still operates in London, pending a decision on its appeal.

TfL stripped Uber of its London licence last year for a second time — the first being in 2017 — after “several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.” It found that more than 14,000 drivers had uploaded fake identities onto other Uber driver’s accounts to pick up passengers in the city.

Uber has made “a number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems” since its licence was stripped, TfL said in a statement in November, but these changes weren’t enough.

In April, Uber announced a new system whereby drivers take a selfie before picking up a passenger, and have their identity verified via facial recognition.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager of northern and eastern Europe, said in a statement that the company has “worked hard to address TfL’s concerns over the last few months, rolled out real-time ID checks for drivers, and are committed to keeping people moving safely around the city.”

The taxi app is still operating in London because of its decision to appeal the ban, even though it no longer has a licence.

London is among Uber’s five-biggest markets worldwide. Uber has around 45,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in the city.

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