An investigation by CNN found that over 103 Uber drivers were accused of assault and abuse over four years.
The analysis is based on “an in-depth review of police reports, federal court records and county court databases for 20 major U.S. cities,” CNN reports.
This is just the latest in a years-long stretch of scandals for Uber, from highly questionable privacy practices like the time an Uber executive suggested the company spy on journalists, to the #DeleteUber campaign on social media following Uber’s decision to break New York taxi drivers’ strike at JFK airport and discrimination allegations within the company. There are entire timelines devoted to tracking Uber’s neverending corporate and ethical woes.
Uber drivers assaulting riders are no secret—women have come forward in the past with individual horror stories about abusive drivers. This is the first large-scale report of those claims.
Many of the riders were intoxicated or otherwise inebriated at the time of the assaults. For a ride-sharing company that campaigns on being a “safe” alternative to driving for intoxicated riders, this is massively problematic. And according to CNN, no one there wants to talk about it:
“Uber was made aware of CNN's reporting for this story months ago but the company failed to make any executives available to speak on the record. It canceled an on-camera interview with an Uber executive earlier this month. On a call with CNN last week for an unrelated story, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said cracking down on sexual assault is a ‘new priority for us.’”
Uber says it perform background checks on drivers using a startup called Checkr, and that it reviews the records of candidates as they’re flagged, but CNN found two instances in which drivers pleaded guilty to sexual assaults while working for both Uber and Lyft.
The company said it planned to monitor new criminal offenses as they happen and re-run background checks yearly, as well as designating a "safety center" within the Uber app that will allow riders to share location details with a trusted contact and an emergency button for calling 911 inside the app.
None of these app updates will help someone who’s too inebriated to use their phone, or if their phone is taken from them, or if it has a dead battery.