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Uber tries an open approach to tackling bad press

Online petition platform Change.org recently delivered a
petition against Uber’s double standards to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. In the

Online petition platform Change.org recently delivered a
petition against Uber’s double standards to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. In the
petition, the petitioner demands that the company stops its ‘
double
standards
’ and run a similar three-step background check process in India,
like they have in the US.
The petitioners also mandated a 7 year background
check for all Uber drivers in India like in the US.

Last month, following the alleged rape of a woman in the
capital by an Uber driver with an assault record, local authorities had banned
Uber
from providing its services in NCT of Delhi till it got proper
licenses from the Transport department. A case of cheating, under Section 420
of the IPC, had also been registered against Uber. This case caused a
nationwide outrage against the company in India, with several cities considering
banning Uber as well.

Along
with Uber
, the transport department had also banned other private radio
taxi services — barring the six registered under the Delhi government’s Economy
Radio Taxi Scheme — from operating in Delhi. The six radio taxi services that
are registered are Easy Cabs, Mega Cabs, Meru, Chanson, Yo Cabs and Air Cabs.

Later, after much hue cry, the Transport Department had modified
the Radio Taxi Scheme 2006
, drawing up specific guidelines for the
operations of all cab provider services, including app-based cab service
providers like Uber, TaxiForSure, among others.

Now, Uber has responded to a group of Change.org petitioners
protesting Uber’s background check policies in India. After the petition
reached more than 63,000 signatures, Uber India Safety Lead Deval Delivala
wrote a 600-word apology, explaining the steps that the company is taking to
improve its driver vetting process in the country.

On January 15th 2015, the company said it will
start doing its own background checks on drivers, instead of relying on
government certification programs to vet the drivers adequately.

In the Change.org apology, Delivala covered everything from
Uber’s reaction to the alleged rape (it was a “deeply sobering reminder that we
must always be vigilant”) to what it taught Uber about background checks in
India. She explained how the company is trying to strengthen its system,
through things like a document verification system and an incident response
team. She finished up with a bold promise: “We will repay [your] support with
action and live up to the trust that you have placed in us.”

In September 2014, Buzzfeed had found out that Uber sent media
the same two sentence response to any situation involving passenger safety,
whether a rape, assault, or pedestrian injury.

During one of Uber’s biggest scandals when an executive
threatened to dig up dirt on journalists, CEO Travis Kalanick famously issued a
13 part tweet apology.

Here is the response from Uber
India Safety Lead Deval Delivala
:

The
safety of our riders and drivers is the highest priority for Uber; not only for
the rides we enable in New Delhi and across India, but also for the millions of
trips taken on our platform around the world.

The
tragic event in Delhi was a deeply sobering reminder, that we must always be
vigilant in the endeavor to achieve best-in-class safety. Our teams have worked
tirelessly in the past month to re-verify all safety aspects of our operations
in India. These include document verification, driver-partner background
checks, rider feedback and all service support processes.

In more
than 260 cities in 53 countries around the world, we sincerely believe we have
built the safest transportation option. And in India too, we are working hard
to integrate unprecedented transparency and accountability to make Uber the
most trusted way to ride around cities.

Our
teams have been working around the clock to develop new safety programs,
implement global best practices and strengthen existing features and processes
so the women of India have the reliable and safe transportation option they
deserve and can rely on.

Driver
background checks are of prime importance to our riders and something we take
very seriously. In India, Uber has always partnered exclusively with
commercially licensed and insured driver-partners who are already required to
be police verified as part of the transport licensing process. This unfortunate
incident has highlighted challenges in the systems due largely to non-digitized
record keeping and the lack of a centralised database for criminal offenders.
To ensure verifications are legitimate and reliable, more needs to be done at
the ground level.

We also
know that we can do better, and we are holding ourselves to that promise. Going
above and beyond required industry-standards, we are introducing the following
measures:

1) Background checks: We’re engaging local
and global experts in this field to evaluate and implement the most effective
background screening solution across India; pilot programs are already running
in select cities, including Delhi.

2) Police Verification: Re-verifying and
ensuring that all Uber driver-partners in Delhi and across India have an
authentic and valid police verification.

3) Document Verification: A local team of
specially-trained safety experts to detect fraud, verify and authenticate driver
/ vehicle documents and test the validity of our screening

4) Incident Response Team: A local and
dedicated customer support center that will specialise in resolving critical
issues for our rider and driver community in India

5) In-App Safety Features: Building on the
existing ShareMyETA button which has always allowed you to send your complete
trip details (including live GPS tracking, driver name, vehicle type and
license no.) to your loved ones, the enhancement now also lets you send the
driver’s photo. This is the first improvement in many new integrated Uber safety
features coming to India.

As a
global company, Uber’s vision for safety is clear and firm; here’s a note from
the Head of Safety at Uber on his vision for safety (http://blog.uber.com/safety)
and roadmap for the coming year.

Our
teams continue to explore opportunities to work together with government,
authorities and organisations leading the way in women’s safety and empowerment
to get you moving again safely.

We also
want you to know that we are listening, and we’re seeking your suggestions for
improvements, partnerships, and ideas that you would like to see from us.
Please share your suggestions with us at safety@uber.com.

We have
appreciated your help and words of encouragement; we will repay that support
with action and live up to the trust that you have placed in us.

Sincerely,

Deval
Delivala, India Safety Lead, Uber Technologies

Image Source: Financial Express 

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