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Politics

Cab-hailing app banned in New Delhi following rape accusation

SINGAPORE -- Uber Technologies is facing another obstacle in its quest for global expansion. The U.S. company's cab-hailing app Uber has been banned from operating in New Delhi after an Uber-registered taxi driver allegedly raped a young female passenger.

     The driver, who reportedly was accused of another sexual assault a few years ago, has already been arrested by the police. Uber is facing criticism for not conducting enough background checks before the driver joined its network.

     "The transport department has banned all activities relating to providing any transport service by Uber with immediate effect," the government of Delhi said in a statement. It has also "blacklisted" the company from providing any transport service in the National Capital Territory of Delhi in the future. The statement said the taxi was provided through Uber "in contravention" of local laws and rules. "Uber... misled the commuter about the nature of the taxi service offered by the 'Uber App'," said the statement.

     The case has sparked public outrage and ignited campaigns protesting the repeated violent crimes against women in India.

     Meanwhile, Uber maintains it is a technology business that matches drivers with ride-seekers, not a transportation company. The incident has sparked debate about whose responsibility it is to vet drivers  -- the matchmaker or the cab operator.    

     Uber issued statements on its blog on Sunday, saying the company immediately provided local authorities with all relevant details for the driver. "We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs," said Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick. "We will do everything, I repeat, everything to help bring this perpetrator to justice," he said.

     Uber has been the subject of protests around the world by taxi drivers who are against its services, which have allowed people to become unlicensed drivers by using their own cars. The company is also facing regulatory opposition in some countries. In August, a few days after launching in Indonesia, Uber faced a backlash from Jakarta authorities who claim the company has not obtained the necessary permits to operate. 

Nikkei staff writer Kiran Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this story.

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