Conservative backbencher David Davis has vowed to ask questions in Parliament over Uber's seemingly unregulated sharing of data with police and transport regulators as it battled to save its London private hire operator's licence.
The outspoken one-time Brexit Secretary took to Twitter on Friday, sharing a story from The Times reporting on Uber's court efforts to keep its valuable licence for dispatching private hire vehicles in England's capital.
In November 2019, Uber was formally stripped of its licence after what Transport for London (TfL) called a "pattern of failures", including allowing random third parties to upload their mugshots to legitimate Uber driver accounts, bypassing background checks.
Last week Westminster Magistrates' Court heard the American ride-hailing app's latest appeal against its loss of licence – including revelations that the Metropolitan Police and TfL alike benefited from "thousands of pieces of intelligence on drivers, passengers and journeys each year," as The Times reported.
Davis expressed the fear that in its desperation to keep its licence, Uber had formed a Faustian pact with police and TfL, silently surveilling its passengers and drivers alike in the hope of buying itself a licence renewal by greasing the deal with customers' data.
I have tabled Parliamentary Questions to the Home Office and Freedom of Information requests to police forces around the country seeking further information.— David Davis (@DavidDavisMP) September 18, 2020
Police units supporting Uber's appeal, according to written arguments seen by the newspaper, included the National Police Chiefs' Council, the National Crime Agency, and the British Transport Police. A police manager wrote to TfL in a letter shown to the court boasting that Uber had handed over user data more than 2,000 times per year.
The finding is not inconsistent with the ride-hailing app operators' actions in the US, though it also used a cop-blocking technology called Greyball to detect and cancel ride bookings made by undercover police workers looking for violations of local regulations.
We have asked Uber to comment on Davis's statements.
The case at Westminster Mags Court ran from 14-17 September and a ruling on Uber's appeal over losing its license is due next week. ®