Uber failed to screen out criminals from its drivers, prosecutors say

District attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles issued their charges in an amended complaint

Uber has failed to screen out criminals from its drivers, prosecutors allege, including 25 drivers who had been convicted of crimes including murder, sex offenses, kidnapping, and assault.

District attorneys in Los Angeles and San Francisco issued their charges in an amended complaint after accusing Uber in December of misleading customers over its background checks.

Since the initial suit, systematic failures in Uber's background check process have come to light through the discovery process, said the complaint, which was filed Tuesday in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco county.

Despite Uber's safety claims, the company does not perform fingerprint-based background checks for its drivers, the amended complaint states, which are less comprehensive and provide less security than fingerprint checks done on taxi drivers in California.

Uber instead uses a name-based checking system that searches drivers names' within various databases including the National Sex Offender Registry and National Criminal Search.

Uber has over time changed the way it describes its screening practices for hiring drivers, the complaint states. It has, for instance, changed the description for its background checks as "industry-leading" to "Background checks you can trust," the complaint said.

But on the whole, "The representations are likely to mislead consumers into believing that Uber does everything it can" to ensure their safety, the complaint said.

An Uber spokeswoman, in a statement, said the company disagrees that a fingerprint check process is an inherently better system for screening drivers than the company's background checks.

"The reality is that neither is 100 percent foolproof, as we discovered last year when putting hundreds of people through our checks who identified themselves as taxi drivers," she said.

That process, she said, uncovered convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, rape, attempted murder, child abuse and violence.

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Zach Miners

IDG News Service
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