Uber says it received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault in US in 2018

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi speaks at a meeting of the Economic Club of New York in Manhattan on Dec. 4, 2019 in New York City. (Scott Heins/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 06 December 2019

Uber says it received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault in US in 2018

  • Says 3,000 reports of sexual assault from 1.3 billion rides
  • Figure represents 16% fall from 2017 in most serious categories

LONDON : Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc. said it received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault related to its 1.3 billion rides in the United States last year, in a report aimed at ensuring drivers and the public it was serious about safety.
The figure represents a 16% fall in the rate of incidents from the previous year in the five most serious categories of sexual assault reported, Uber said on Thursday in its first biennial US Safety Report .
The firm also said reports of assaults on passengers overlooked risks for drivers as riders accounted for roughly half of the accused.
The 84-page report comes almost two weeks after Uber said it would appeal the loss of its license to carry passengers in London over a “pattern of failures” on safety and security.
Uber, which in the past has faced criticism over safety on its platform and has been repeatedly hit with lawsuits over driver misconduct, last year committed to releasing a safety report in a sign of a cultural turnaround under its new CEO.
The firm, which operates in 70 countries, said the report showed its commitment to transparency to improve accountability and safety industry-wide. It said it would use what it learned producing the report for its “next steps” in other places.
“I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they’re still too common. Some people will appreciate how much we’ve done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right,” tweeted Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi.
In the report, Uber said 99.9% of its 2.3 billion US trips in 2017 and 2018 ended without safety incidents.
It said it received 235 reports of “non-consensual sexual penetration” last year and 280 of “attempted non-consensual sexual penetration” — nearly all filed by women. The remaining assault reports included incidents of unwanted kissing or touching of body parts.
It also detailed 10 fatal physical assaults in 2017 and nine in 2018 — eight victims were riders, seven were drivers using Uber’s app, and four were third parties such as bystanders.
At an event on Wednesday, Khosrowshahi said he prioritized improving Uber’s culture and safety when assuming his role in 2017. At the time, Uber was dealing with regulatory fallout and public backlash over its business practices, forcing former CEO and founder Travis Kalanick to step down.
“We had to change the culture internally and we simply got to do the right thing,” Khosrowshahi said, adding that Uber was not hiding anything by publishing internal information.
Rival Lyft Inc. in a statement said it was committed to releasing its own safety report and sharing information on unsafe drivers. It did not state a release date for its report.

Background checks
Uber said it puts drivers through a vigorous background check before accepting them onto its platform. In its report, it said one million drivers failed to pass the screening test in 2017 and 2018 and more than 40,000 were removed from the app after extra screening layers.
Regulators have long said Uber’s screening process was insufficient and inferior to those in place for taxi drivers, with several US cities attempting to compel Uber to mandate fingerprinting of its drivers.
New York City is currently the only US city where drivers have to provide fingerprints and undergo the same licensing requirements as regular taxi drivers.
The New York City Transport and Limousine Commission in response to Uber’s safety report on Thursday said there was no substitute for background checks based on fingerprinting.
“They are the best way to prevent against drivers with criminal records,” its Acting Commissioner Bill Heinzen said in a statement.
An Uber spokeswoman on Thursday said the firm’s screening process was robust and rigorous, and was more reliable than the database for fingerprints where she said not all crimes are updated promptly.


Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

Updated 23 January 2020

Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus

Singapore Thursday confirmed its first case of the new SARS-like virus which has killed 17 people in China and spread to multiple countries including the United States.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the patient was a 66-year-old man from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Monday.
He was immediately isolated after arriving at a hospital with a fever and cough, and test results later confirmed he was infected with the coronavirus.
One of his traveling companions, a 37-year-old man from Wuhan, has also been admitted to hospital as a suspect case.
Prior to admission, they had stayed at a hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, the ministry said.
It added that Singapore was expecting more cases and alarms “given the high volume of international travel.”
Moreover, tourists leaving Bangkok for China said on Thursday they were worried about the spread of the Wuhan virus, ahead of more air and train travel in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year holidays.
China has placed Wuhan, a city of 11 million, on lockdown, as it is considered the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak that has killed 17 and infected nearly 600.
Thailand has so far confirmed four cases of coronavirus, the largest number outside China. Two of the cases were Chinese women who have since been allowed to return home. Chinese tourists make up the largest group of visitors to Thailand.
At Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, masked visitors lined up as usual to check in for Southern China Airlines flights back to China.
AirAsia said on Thursday it has canceled direct flights between Wuhan and cities in Thailand and Malaysia until Jan 28.
Matt Thomas, who lives in the Chinese city of Xian, said he was worried about the new Chinese virus, especially because he once contracted swine flu which he described as “awful.”
“I’m a bit worried that it will repeat. I have just got to be safe. In these sorts of situations, you know, take everything seriously, don’t take any risks,” Thomas said.
Chinese health officials fear the transmission rate will accelerate, as hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad during week-long holidays for the Lunar New Year.