Taxi News Roundup November 2017
Uber admits to covering up hack
November turned out to be a shaky month for Uber, with the company admitting that it covered up a breach that exposed the personal data of around 57m customers and drivers.
The breach occurred in October 2016, with hackers gaining access to millions of customer names, email addresses and phone numbers, alongside data on around 600,000 drivers in both the USA and UK.
Uber chose to pay the hackers $100,000 to delete the data affected and keep quiet about the breach. The company then concealed details of the hack from regulators, customers and the press for over a year, until Bloomberg finally broke the news to the public in mid-November.
Employees directly responsible for the cover up have now been fired, and the company states that an internal investigation is now underway.
In a statement acknowledging the hack, current Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said: “None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it. While I can’t erase the past, I can commit on behalf of every Uber employee that we will learn from our mistakes.”
“At the time of the incident, we took immediate steps to secure the data and shut down further unauthorized access by the individuals. We subsequently identified the individuals and obtained assurances that the downloaded data had been destroyed. We also implemented security measures to restrict access to and strengthen controls on our cloud-based storage accounts.”
Aberdeen council plans driver health MOT
Taxi drivers working across Aberdeenshire could soon be made to undergo a “health MOT” in order to make sure they are fit enough to work.
Only drivers over the age of 70 or with a pre-declared medical condition are required to undergo a council medical, and only before being granted a license. However a council sub-committee has suggested that medicals should be enforced for drivers of all ages when applying for or renewing a license.
The idea has been met with criticism from of the area’s 2000 drivers, with one warning that a compulsory medical may deter colleagues from continuing their work.
Stewart Wight of Laurencekirk firm Safe Drive described the proposals as an “utter farce”. He said: “The Group 2 medical plan is far too onerous. It will have a huge effect on the trade, as many of the drivers who carry out the school runs are only registered as taxi drivers because they were asked to by the council. Most I have spoken to will probably give up if this goes through.”
Aberdeenshire does currently have a similar scheme in place for Bin lorry drivers, who need to pass a regular medical in order to continue working for the council. However, as other in-house drivers are exempt from the test, some have accused the council of double standards.
In reply to the response from Aberdeenshire’s taxi industry, Councillor Fergus Hood of the authority’s licensing committee said: “There are more than 2,000 taxi and private hire car operators and drivers in Aberdeenshire and it’s important that we hear as many views as possible before deciding on the best way to introduce the medical assessment scheme”.
Consultations began on the 29th November, and will end on December 8th. A separation online consultation is also planned before the council makes a final decision.
Uber drivers are legally employees
Alongside the news of the hack, and the company’s on-going licensing saga in London, November also saw Uber lose an appeal against the decision that its drivers are legally employed, not self-employed.
The initial ruling against the company came after two drivers - Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar - won an employment tribunal case after arguing that they should be classed as employees. Uber immediately appealed the decision, with authorities now again coming to the conclusion that its drivers do not meet the legal classification of “self-employed”.
This is big news for Uber’s drivers, potentially meaning they could be entitled to holiday pay, paid sick days, the minimum wage, and other benefits currently enjoyed by most taxi drivers and the vast majority of the UK’s workforce.
The decision was supported by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, who argued that companies like Uber have been actively choosing to “deprive workers of their rights”.
However, the company has held firm on the stance that its drivers are self-employed, and plans to launch another appeal against the decision. If the appeal is accepted the case may find its way to the Supreme Court, further delaying any action from the initial decision.