Uber has been dealt another blow today following news that five of its drivers in Hong Kong were found guilty of illegally offering taxi services via the company’s mobile app.
The drivers were fined HK$10,000 each after being convicted by a Hong Kong court for not having proper licences and insurance to operate vehicles for commercial purposes.
The court also revoked their licences for a year but the penalty was suspended following an appeal from the drivers.
Judge So Wai-tak said he didn’t see much disparity between Uber drivers and pirate taxi drivers.
“Members of the public may find the innovative mode of transport very attractive,” the judge said while issuing the sentence.
“However, any private car service with the aim of carrying members of the public as passengers must be regulated and put under control, otherwise the interest and safety of passengers might be compromised.”
Kenneth She, General Manager for Uber in Hong Kong, defended the business following the verdict, saying “sharing a ride shouldn’t be a crime”.
“Hong Kong’s current transportation regulations have failed to catch up with this new reality and now risk reducing choice and competition.”
The ride-hailing app has come under immense criticism following a string of scandals, including the use of a programme to evade law enforcement efforts and the testing of self-driving cars without a permit.
Uber said yesterday it would stop using its “Greyball” tool, which uses geolocation data, credit card information, social media accounts, and other data to identify users who may be involved in sting operations.
The decision marked a U-turn for Uber after previously defending the programme as necessary for protecting its drivers from harm.
Uber also backtracked over applying for a permit to test self-driving cars in San Francisco, California.
Uber had initially resisted calls from City and state officials to take the cars off the road after trialling the vehicles without permission in December.
However, Uber on 2 March announced that it would now apply for a permit to test the cars in San Francisco.
The company is also facing a lawsuit from Waymo, the self-driving car company spun-off from Google, on claims Uber was involved in the “calculated theft” of secret technology.
Adding to Uber’s problems, it has faced allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. A viral video of chief executive Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver, who complained of lowered fares, has also given the company grief.
Story by ProactiveInvestors