Uber agrees to settle US lawsuit filed by India rape victim

The Indian woman had previously settled a civil US lawsuit against Uber in 2015. (Shutterstock)
Updated 09 December 2017
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Uber agrees to settle US lawsuit filed by India rape victim

SAN FRANCISCO: Uber Technologies Inc. and a woman who accused top executives of improperly obtaining her medical records after a company driver raped her in India have agreed to settle a civil lawsuit the woman filed against Uber in June, according to a US federal court filing on Friday.
The Uber driver was convicted of the rape, which occurred in Delhi in 2014, in a criminal case in India. He was sentenced in 2015 to life in prison.
The Indian woman had previously settled a civil US lawsuit against Uber in 2015, but sued the company again in a San Francisco federal court saying that shortly after the incident, a US Uber executive “met with Delhi police and intentionally obtained plaintiff’s confidential medical records.” Uber kept a copy of those records, the lawsuit said.
The woman was living in the United States when she filed the lawsuit.
Terms of the settlement were not disclosed in the court document. A spokesman for San Francisco-based Uber declined to comment. An attorney for the woman could not immediately be reached for comment.
The settlement comes as new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who took the top job in August, is seeking to put several scandals behind the company following eight years of CEO Travis Kalanick’s pugnacious leadership, which led to rule-breaking around the world.
The lawsuit cited several media reports that said Kalanick and others doubted the victim’s account of her ordeal.
“Uber executives duplicitously and publicly decried the rape, expressing sympathy for plaintiff, and shock and regret at the violent attack, while privately speculating, as outlandish as it is, that she had colluded with a rival company to harm Uber’s business,” the lawsuit said.
A source with knowledge of the matter previously told Reuters that Kalanick had told other Uber executives he believed the incident had been staged by Indian ride-services rival Ola.
In a prior statement, while Kalanick was CEO, Uber said: “No one should have to go through a horrific experience like this, and we’re truly sorry that she’s had to relive it.”
A spokesman for Kalanick was not immediately available for comment on Friday.
Uber’s actions have led to a criminal probe by the US Department of Justice of whether managers violated US bribery laws, specifically the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the company said in June.
The Justice Department did not say on what country or countries the investigation centered on. Bloomberg said it focused on activity in at least five Asian countries. Uber has also notified US authorities about payments made by Uber staff to police officers in Indonesia, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Uber previously hired law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP to investigate how it obtained the medical records of the rape victim, Reuters reported in June.


SoftBank’s Son says Japan is ‘stupid’ to disallow ride-sharing

Updated 19 July 2018
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SoftBank’s Son says Japan is ‘stupid’ to disallow ride-sharing

  • ‘Ride-sharing is prohibited by law in Japan. I can’t believe there is still such a stupid country’
  • SoftBank and its nearly $100 billion Vision Fund have invested in ride-sharing firms Uber, Didi, Ola and Grab, as well as in other technology companies

TOKYO: SoftBank Group Corp. Chief Executive Masayoshi Son blasted Japan on Thursday for not allowing ride-sharing services, calling it “stupid” and saying the country was lagging overseas rivals in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI).
“Ride-sharing is prohibited by law in Japan. I can’t believe there is still such a stupid country,” Son said at an annual company event aimed at customers and suppliers.
The comments reflect Son’s frustration with Japan where he built SoftBank’s domestic telecoms business, the cash engine that has powered his investments. The group has, however, focused its growing range of technology investments overseas.
Son has also been highly critical of the government previously when SoftBank was still a fledgling telecoms service trying to break up a cozy duopoly in Japan.
“A country that gives up on the future has no future,” Son told attendees at the SoftBank World event, saying Japanese business is lagging behind countries such as the United States and China in employing AI.
Japan outlaws non-professional drivers from transporting paying customers on safety grounds and the country’s taxi industry lobby has vigorously opposed deregulation.
Its strict rules have confined ride-sharing firms to providing limited services, with SoftBank and China’s Didi Chuxing saying on Thursday they will trial a taxi-hailing service — matching users to pre-existing taxi operators — in Osaka beginning autumn of 2019. Uber is also piloting a taxi-hailing service.
When asked for a response to Son’s comments, a spokesman for the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport said that an issue with ride-sharing services was that while the driver was in charge of transporting passengers, it was unclear who was in charge of maintenance and operation.
“The ministry believes that offering these services for a fee poses problems from the points of both safety and user protection, and careful consideration is necessary,” he said.
Ride-sharing is not the only service in Japan feeling the impact of government restrictions. Strict new rules on home-sharing came into force last month that have radically reduced the number of lettings on sites such as Airbnb Inc.
The curbs on Japan’s nascent sharing economy come despite a rapid rise in the number of inbound tourists likely to access such sharing services, and at a time when Japan is wanting to show its international face ahead of hosting the Rugby World Cup next year and the Summer Olympics in 2020.
While Son, an ethnic Korean born in Japan, has at times criticized the Japanese government, he can also be politically suave. He has praised US President Donald Trump with warm words and pledged to invest billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs in the United States.
SoftBank and its nearly $100 billion Vision Fund have invested in ride-sharing firms Uber Technologies Inc, Didi, India’s Ola and Southeast Asia’s Grab, as well as in other technology companies.
The event on Thursday saw presentations from executives at portfolio companies including Didi, General Motors’ autonomous vehicle unit Cruise and India digital payments firm Paytm E-Commerce Pvt Ltd.
Artificial intelligence is the common thread linking these companies, Son said, with that technology in the future able drive vehicles, diagnose diseases and power financial services.