Uber Will Pay $10 Million Fine for "Misleading Safety Claims"

Driver in car with passenger 1 photo
Photo: Daniel Nanescu /
Uber falls into the spotlight again, and not for something positive. The company that owns the app has agreed to pay a penalty of $10 million to settle a dispute started in 2014. Back then, the American start-up unicorn was sued because they claimed they had a better vetting process for its drivers than traditional minicab companies.
Uber claimed that its background checks were “the gold standard” for safety, but district attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles determined the claim was misleading.

The payment will be made in the next 60 days and will be evenly split between San Francisco and Los Angeles authorities. If Uber fails to comply fully with the terms of the settlement, the company will be forced to pay an extra $15 million in two years.

As it turns out, Uber does not require driver fingerprints to check for prior convictions. Instead, the company uses criminal databases to check the background of drivers wanting to enlist into the service.

BBC notes that the data for those background checks only goes back seven years, unlike fingerprint checking, which is used by traditional companies to discover if prospective employees have any prior convictions.

Instead of adding fingerprint checks for its driver vetting process, the settlement forced Uber to stop using terms like “safest ride on the road” in advertising of any kind. Other changes include renaming the “safe drive fee” as a “booking fee.”

Prosecutors discovered that Uber failed to prevent 25 convicted criminals from becoming drivers for their service. The 25 people whose previous convictions could have been identified through a fingerprint background check include “several sex offenders, and a convicted murderer.”

The company responded to the situation with a statement issued on Thursday, in which they explained that “accidents and incidents do happen.” Uber representatives also stated that “no driver vetting system could ever be 100% safe.

We must note that we agree that there is no possible way to ensure a 100% vetting system for a service like this, but it is a company’s duty to attempt to provide something like this.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon explained that startups must not ignore laws created to protect consumers in their quest for quick market share, and considers that this result impacts more than just Uber.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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