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LA and SF DAs: A Killer, a Burglar and a Kidnapper All Drove for Uber

Will the news hurt the car service's fast growth?


Uber’s background checks aren’t very good, according to the San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys, who listed 25 individuals with criminal records or fake driver’s licenses who drive for the car service.

The list of crimes these drivers committed is long: Assault with a firearm, sexual exploitation of children, theft from the elderly and disabled and identity theft. The DAs discovered these drivers while doing research for their lawsuit against Uber over the way it markets its background check practices.

Uber has deactivated most of the drivers the DAs pointed to, except for a remaining few. It’s waiting on more identifying information from the DAs to find the remaining drivers.

For anyone following the ride-hailing company’s controversies with security issues, this latest revelation about unsavory drivers will perhaps come as no surprise. Throughout Uber’s short history, there have been several instances of drivers with undetected arrest or conviction records, who then allegedly groped, raped or assaulted passengers.

One issue: Uber is not legally mandated to do the gold standard of background checks: Live-scan fingerprinting. That is required of taxi drivers in California, as well as workers in other sensitive positions, such as nurses, teachers and paramedics.

Live scans are the only kind of check that updates after the fact, informing an employer if someone commits a crime in the months or years after they were hired. They’re also the only kind of check that can directly access federal government databases — others have to rely on secondary sources compiled by crawling Google and online public records. Live scans can go back to a person’s birthdate, whereas other kinds of checks are limited by law to seven years.

Uber claims that their checks are just as good as live scans, and in some ways better. “We disagree that the live-scan process used by taxi companies is an inherently better system for screening drivers than our background checks,” Uber said in a statement. “The reality is that neither is 100 percent foolproof.”

Interestingly, Uber’s own background check supplier — an agency called Hirease — thinks live scans are more reliable. “Fingerprinting helps uncover criminal history not discovered through traditional methods, offers extra protection to aid in meeting industry guidelines, and helps prevent fraud,” the company said.

Regardless of which kind of check is better, the DAs aren’t suing Uber to change its practices — they’re leaving that up to the regulatory body that governs Uber, the California Public Utilities Commission.

This article originally appeared on

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