20 Aug Uber Missed Criminal Records of Drivers, Prosecutors Assert
SAN FRANCISCO — For more than a year, regulators in various cities have questioned whether Uber, the ride-hailing service, vets its drivers for criminal backgrounds as carefully as traditional taxi companies.
Now the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles have offered perhaps the most concrete evidence to date that people convicted of murder, sex offenses and various property crimes have driven for Uber, despite assurances from the company that it employs “industry-leading” screening.
The district attorneys said Wednesday that background checks used by Uber failed to uncover the criminal records of 25 drivers in the two cities. The charges were made in a 62-page amended complaint to a civil suit, originally filed in December, that claims Uber has continually misled consumers about the methods it uses to screen drivers.
“We are learning increasingly that a lot of the information that Uber has been presenting the consumer has been false and misleading,” said George Gascón, the district attorney in Uber’s hometown, San Francisco.
As Uber has aggressively pushed its service into cities around the world, often not waiting for permission from local regulators, it has faced hostility from local taxi drivers who fear it is undercutting their business, as well as increasing skepticism regarding the trustworthiness of some of its drivers.
Some of the most pointed questioning has come from Mr. Gascón, who argues that Uber’s background checks are not as thorough as another service, called Live Scan, that is typically used by taxi companies.
He said in a news conference Wednesday that about 30,000 registered sex offenders in California did not appear in a public registry Uber uses in its background checks. The checks also go back only seven years.