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Uber driver reportedly gets life sentence for rape on passenger in India

Rape focused international attention on passenger safety and led to a temporary ban of the ride-hailing service in Delhi.

Uber has been under pressure to implement features to improve passenger safety.

Uber

An Uber driver in India was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison for the rape last year of a female passenger, according to Reuters.

Shiv Kumar Yadav was given the maximum sentence allowed by law after being found guilty last month by an Indian court of the kidnap, rape and criminal intimidation of a woman, the news service reported. The 26-year-old woman was attacked after booking a ride home from a party in Delhi on the ride-hailing service.

The attack garnered international attention and prompted officials in Dehli to ban Uber for failing to have a proper license for its drivers. Uber has since returned to India's roads after applying to be considered a taxi company under Indian law.

Uber did not respond to a request for comment.

Since its launch six years ago, the ride-hailing service has grown from a San Francisco-based startup into a multinational service in 295 cities and 55 countries. With that rapid growth has come criticism about how the company handles safety. Over the past couple of years, Uber has been dogged by allegations of drivers assaulting, raping and kidnapping passengers.

The ride-hailing service conducts background checks all of its drivers, but Yadav allegedly hid his criminal record by using forged documents. He confessed to the crime during interrogation, Dehli police told the local media.

The victim of the Dehli rape initially attempted to sue Uber in the US, accusing the company of failing to provide adequate safety protocols. She voluntarily withdrew her suit in September after Uber countered that the driver did not work for it and that California was the wrong venue for the lawsuit.

This isn't the only lawsuit that accuses Uber of failing to properly protect its passengers. A suit filed against Uber in San Francisco in October claims that the company's "negligence," "fraud" and "misleading statements" led to the sexual assault of two female passengers.

The issue of passenger safety has also led prosecutors in California to file a lawsuit against Uber that accuses the company of misleading consumers about their safety on the service and the quality of its driver background checks. District attorneys in Los Angeles and San Francisco charged that Uber's background checks failed to weed out 25 drivers with criminal records

In an effort to address passenger safety concerns, Uber has introduced a range of new initiatives and features. In March, it established a permanent global safety advisory board to review the company's safety practices and created incident response teams in every region in which it operates, to be on call 24 hours a day and investigate and respond to "serious safety concerns." It has also introduced some India-specific safety measures, including integrating a panic button into its app and inking a deal with Indian safety-tracking app SafetiPin.