The Uber driver involved in the rape of his passenger in New Delhi, India over the weekend has been arrested. The man is named Shiv Kumar Yadav, and he will go before a New Delhi court on Monday, according to Reuters.
Madhur Verma, New Delhi police deputy commissioner, said that police will also take legal action against Uber — valued at $40 billion — for failure to run checks on the driver’s background and whether he had an adequate GPS device in his car. The police are taking legal advice before deciding whether it would be a criminal or civil case.
Earlier reports suggest that the suspect had disabled GPS during the incident, which occurred late on Friday night or early Saturday morning. The suspect allegedly parked the car in a secluded area after the passenger, said to be in her mid-twenties, fell asleep. He then raped her and threatened her life if she reported anything.
Shockingly enough, Uber’s terms of service don’t necessarily protect against this.
You can have a read through it right here, if you’d like, but the main argument is this: Uber is not a transportation company, but rather a technology service that matches seekers of transportation (riders) with providers of transportation (drivers). By using Uber, and accepting the obligatory ToS, you are acknowledging that each and every driver that picks you up in any city in the world is a third-party (not Uber), and thus, Uber is not responsible for any of their actions.
UBER DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE SUITABILITY, SAFETY OR ABILITY OF THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS. IT IS SOLELY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO DETERMINE IF A THIRD PARTY PROVIDER WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS AND EXPECTATIONS. UBER WILL NOT PARTICIPATE IN DISPUTES BETWEEN YOU AND A THIRD PARTY PROVIDER. BY USING THE SERVICES, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU MAY BE EXPOSED TO SITUATIONS INVOLVING THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS THAT ARE POTENTIALLY UNSAFE, OFFENSIVE, HARMFUL TO MINORS, OR OTHERWISE OBJECTIONABLE, AND THAT USE OF THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS ARRANGED OR SCHEDULED USING THE SERVICES IS AT YOUR OWN RISK AND JUDGMENT. UBER SHALL NOT HAVE ANY LIABILITY ARISING FROM OR IN ANY WAY RELATED TO YOUR TRANSACTIONS OR RELATIONSHIP WITH THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS.
This is hardly the first time that a dispute (to put it lightly) has arisen between an Uber driver and a passenger or pedestrian. One man was hit over the head with a hammer, and a six-year-old girl was killed when hit by a driver. This isn’t even the first rape allegation against an Uber driver.
But Uber’s Terms of Service, which are very similar to those of competitors Lyft and Sidecar, expressly protect the startup from any responsibility for these tragedies.
In this particular case, the police are investigating whether or not some of Uber’s safety promises, such as background checks and location-tracking functionality, were enforced.
“Every violation by Uber will be evaluated and we will go for legal recourse,” said Verma.
This horrendous incident comes on the heels of a $1.2 billion financing round, valuing the company at $40 billion.
Uber responded quickly to the situation this weekend, offering to assist police in finding the suspect.
I’ve included their response to the situation, as offered by a spokesperson:
We became aware of the incident this morning. Safety is Uber’s highest priority and we take situations like this very seriously. We are working with the police as they investigate, and will assist them in any way we can to determine what happened. It is also our policy to immediately suspend a driver’s account following allegations of a serious incident, which we have done. In India, we work with licensed driver-partners to provide a safe transportation option, with layers of safeguards such as driver and vehicle information, and ETA-sharing to ensure there is accountability and traceability of all trips that occur on the Uber platform.
We’ve reached out to Uber and will of course update the story as soon as we hear back.