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Uber's license revoked in Brighton over data breach handling

Council members express concerns over the company's failure to promptly disclose its breach

Brighton Council has rejected Uber's request to renew its licence to operate in the city, citing concerns around the ride-hailing company's handling of a recent data breach which affected some 57 million accounts.

It marks the second time a UK city has essentially revoked Uber's licence due to the company's failure to promptly disclose a breach on its systems after action was taken by the City of York Council in December.

Uber's licence renewal was also rejected by the Transport for London in September over the company's operational practices, including the failure to report serious criminal offences and its use of so-called 'Greyball' software, which was said to have helped the company evade regulatory investigations.

Brighton & Hove City Council's licensing panel echoed TFL comments that the company was not "fit and proper" to hold an operator's licence, pointing also to Uber's repeated use of drivers outside of the local area.

"When making Hackney Carriage and Private Hire operator licensing decisions, our priority is the safety of residents and visitors and, due to the data breach and the lack of commitment to using drivers licensed here, we were not satisfied that UBL are a fit and proper person to hold an operator's licence in the city," said panel chair Councillor Jackie O'Quinn.

She pointed to a commitment as part of Uber's original licence application in 2015 that required the company to adhere to the same standards as other operators, and to only use drivers licensed in the Brighton & Hove area.

"In the panel's view, large numbers of taxis operating in the city that do not meet our Blue Book standards puts the safety of residents and visitors at potential risk," added O'Quinn.

Brighton had previously granted Uber a further six months to operate in the city following the London ban, in order to "monitor the outcome" and give more time to negotiate with the company.

The council claimed at the time that Uber was working to help address the concerns, however, it appears negotiations have now collapsed.

An Uber spokesperson told IT Pro: "This is a disappointing decision for the thousands of passengers and drivers who rely on our app in Brighton and Hove. We intend to appeal so we can continue serving the city."

The mounting licensing pressure has forced the company to reform its business operations over the past few months, most notably with the introduction of a 24/7 telephone service and a greater willingness to report serious crime.

Uber maintains its licence to operate in other UK cities, including recent renewals in Nottingham, Leicester, Cambridge and Glasgow. Despite an initial rejection by Sheffield City Council in December, the suspension was lifted shortly after.

Image: Shutterstock

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