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Happenstance

Uber loses its license to operate in London

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Hmm. Part of me is a bit dubious that this was done to get rid of the Black Taxi's competition. The other side of me can see and understand the security and safeguarding implications of Uber. So, I get it and am not surprised, but am still sceptical. 

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It's a complicated contradictory mess.

I have never used Uber because I've never felt the need to, so I don't have any first hand experiences to draw from.  However, seeing the reactions to this there seems to be a lot of people that are marginalised (due to gender, sexuality etc) who have said it provided a safe journey home (compared to waiting at a bus stop at night and then taking the night bus itself which is obviously problematic in itself sometimes).  Plus those that have said it is simply a better connected way of doing things (either because they live in areas that are not serviced by the night tube - or indeed need it outside of Friday and Saturday - or because they'd have to take several night busses).  

There is obviously a lot of talk about the safety aspect and I have heard conflicting things about the validity in this, some suggesting Uber is more unsafe (typically focusing on the safety of women) and others saying black cabs/minicabs are.  I think I saw something saying as a percentage Uber is the most unsafe company, but that is hardly surprising when you consider the sheer volume of minicab companies diluting their statistics.  I'm also always hesitant about certain people that pipe up about safety for others because it often feels co-opted for another point (such as the Rochdale rape incidents and general "Islam hates gays why are you trying to defend it!" kind of stuff).

Uber has its problems and they should address those.  I know they've been reticent to do so and that is why it has led to this, but it feels like a huge step on the part of TfL (a very strong fine feels more appropriate that increases/gets repeated if nothing changes).  As people have pointed out, essentially TfL has told 40,000 (or whatever it is) drivers they will be unemployed next week (yes the appeal will keep them going, and I'm sure ultimately Uber will stick around, but even so).  It feels like its primarily being led by the LTDA by and large who are famously anti-competition.  And not just in terms of private-hire vehicles, but they dislike anyone else being on the road.  They seem to have had it in for Uber from the start, and mostly because Uber was providing competition (both in terms of pricing and technology).  Yes, cabbies taking that test and having all that knowledge is great, but I think they need to accept by and large people don't give a damn as long as they get to where they need to be.  

So I dunno.  Uber needs to change their practices and take a less hands-off approach to the safety of their passengers, but getting rid of Uber won't make private hire vehicles safe. Giving the LTDA more power, or at least a greater sense of righteousness, is not beneficial to Londoners.  Maybe everyone should just cycle instead, IDK.

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I don't know if it's different in London but here in Bristol I would choose to use an Uber over a normal taxi every time.

The main reason being technology. Uber is just easy. Easy to order, easy to know when they'll get to you, easy to pay. I read a story the other week about a taxi driver that drove a couple of girls to a police station because they were 60p short on the fare, this wouldn't happen with Uber since you just pay on your phone.

A couple of months ago in a drunken stupor I took the wrong night bus home. I got off as close to home as I could and started walking but it was freezing cold and after about 30 mins decided I'd had enough of walking around a part of Bristol I didn't really know trying to find my way home. I had no cash on me so downloaded the Uber app stood at the side of some road and 10 minutes later I was in a car being driven home and didn't have to worry about the fact I had no money.

The first thing that comes to my mind with this story is that it's just the LTDA being scared of competition and throwing their weight around.

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1 hour ago, Eddage said:

The first thing that comes to my mind with this story is that it's just the LTDA being scared of competition and throwing their weight around.

It does seem like it, but there is cause for concern when it comes to Uber's practices.

Uber doesn't treat it's employees (Independent contractors is much more accurate) well though. It's a shame they're at risk of losing their source of income, but Uber needs to sort itself out.

From the BBC news site.

Quote

It has been blamed for congestion, failing to report sexual offences, not doing proper criminal checks and a rise in collisions.
It has also been criticised by unions for poor working conditions of drivers.

But what got me the most unsympathetic (For Uber) is their use of something called "Greyball", it's the 4th point in Happenstance's first post.

From the Wikipedia page on Greyball

Quote

According to the New York Times report, which was based on interviews of four current and former Uber employees and a review of internal Uber documents, Greyball used several methods to identify and deny service to government officials who were investigating Uber for violations of local laws. Those methods included:

Geofencing. 
Uber would create a digital map that identified the locations of city government offices. If a potential rider attempted to hail a ride from the area around a government building, Greyball would flag the individual as a possible law enforcement agent.


Mining credit card databases.
If Uber identified a credit card as being associated with a government agency or police union, it would flag that individual in Greyball.


Identifying devices. 
Since government agencies would often buy cheap cellphones for use in sting operations, Uber employees would visit electronics stores to obtain model numbers for inexpensive phones and input those model numbers into Greyball.


Searches of social media. 
Uber employees searched social media profiles to identify possible law enforcement agents. Uber then flagged those individuals in Greyball.

So when it comes to Uber...

Sucks for most of the people who work for Uber though.

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"It has been blamed for congestion".  The LTDA blame cyclists for pollution so this doesn't hold much water :p (yeah more cars obviously increase congestion, I know I know).

The Greyball thing kind of amuses me actually.  If you ignore the reason why they were doing it, the extent they went to feels like some kind of c-list noir.

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1 minute ago, Ashley said:

The Greyball thing kind of amuses me actually.  If you ignore the reason why they were doing it, the extent they went to feels like some kind of c-list noir.

Damnit! Don't mention that word. It immediately makes me think of this.

tumblr_m9mn4pjlOd1qen0e0.gif

As good as that game is, this GIF is what I most remember from L.A Noire.

But there's no denying they were trying to conceal information. Otherwise, why even use it? It's still illegal.

I just want to make this clear, Uber completely disappearing would be bad for a lot of people, but they have to stop being so selfish and scummy.

 

 

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Just now, Glen-i said:

Damnit! Don't mention that word. It immediately makes me think of this.

tumblr_m9mn4pjlOd1qen0e0.gif

As good as that game is, this GIF is what I most remember from L.A Noire.

But there's no denying they were trying to conceal information. Otherwise, why even use it? It's still illegal.

I just want to make this clear, Uber completely disappearing would be bad for a lot of people, but they have to stop being so selfish and scummy.

Clearly you need to watch more actual noir to disassociate yourself from that game/gif.

Oh yeah what they were doing was wrong, but if this was something like House of Cards we'd all be well into it.

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Can't speak for London but I have used Uber hundreds of time in Edinburgh and cannot recommend it enough. Taking options away from people is never a good thing and keeping down technological advances won't wash for long. I understand Uber need to improve their business practices but a lot of this seems like smoke and mirrors used to disguise that they don't want to take away from the black cab business.

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Hail-O's time to shine!

 

Surely this is just gonna end up being a game of whack-a-mole? You knock down Uber, someone comes to take their place :heh:

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On 24/09/2017 at 7:50 AM, Jon said:

Can't speak for London but I have used Uber hundreds of time in Edinburgh and cannot recommend it enough. Taking options away from people is never a good thing and keeping down technological advances won't wash for long. I understand Uber need to improve their business practices but a lot of this seems like smoke and mirrors used to disguise that they don't want to take away from the black cab business.

I also love uber and use it all the time in Glasgow. 

 

TFL are just starting negotiations with a strong arm. It’s clearly a negotiation tactic. The negative press behind them making 40,000 drivers unemployed overnight will be huge and they know it. Uber needs to change some of its practices (reporting crimes centrally etc) but on the whole it’s no different from any other minicab firm. 

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