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Uber Just Lost Its License in London

A smartphone displays the 'Uber' mobile application which allows users to hail private-hire cars from any location in London, England. Oli Scarff—Getty Images

Uber has just lost its license to operate in London, one of its biggest markets outside the U.S.

Transport for London, which regulates the taxi industry in the British capital, said it had come to the conclusion that Uber London Limited “is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license,” after a review of its operating practices. As such, it won’t renew the company’s license when it expires on Sept. 30.

Transport for London cited inadequate screening and background checks of its drivers, its “approach to how medical certificates are obtained” and the use of its controversial “Greyball” software that blocks regulators from gaining full access to the app. Most damningly, Transport for London also questioned the company’s “approach to reporting serious criminal offences” by its drivers—an issue flagged in an extensive submission by the Metropolitan Police.

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The news is a stunning reversal for Uber London, where Uber has enjoyed huge success since it started operations there five years ago. Uber boasts around 40,000 registered drivers over 3 million users around the city.

“Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” said Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager in London. “We intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan rebutted the criticism, saying: “Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules,” and adding “I fully support TfL’s decision — it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”

Uber has 21 days to appeal the decision.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comment from Uber and London Mayor Sadiq Khan

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