Uber confirm that following an internal audit 53 drivers that failed an Uber background check had been already issued with a chauffeur’s license in Austin. A memo originating from Uber’s general manager in Austin confirms that from 163 drivers in Austin who applied 53 failed the background check and were barred from partnering. Of the 53 applicants 19 were refused in light of a serious offense. Amongst the crimes were a hit and run, DWI charges and felony assaults. Uber’s staff relied on data from Austin over a 3 year period to 2015. It is unclear whether those who failed the background check continue to hold Austin licenses.

Uber has confirmed that an applicant’s background check is processed via a third party. This intermediary then hires ‘runners’ to physically call in to federal and county courts. This more hands on approach is used to scour existing and/or current criminal records of applicants. KXAN made approaches to the transportation dept in Austin and sought reaction as to the findings that, possibly, a background check may well have missed important information as to the integrity of existing taxi drivers. However a spokes person advised they would need to examine all the facts before passing comment. The charges uncovered by the background check have not been confirmed as taking place in Texas. Uber will also not commit to sharing personal data due to privacy and data protection.

Austin’s yellow cab president advised KXAN he would like to look at parallels in the background check process with a view to also improving. At this moment Austin’s requirement is a background check via The Texas Dept. of public Safety for ground transport applicants. This as opposed to a national background check confirmed by city code. The irony is that Uber and various council members and committees have locked horns over lobbying for a more stringent finger print background check. These enhanced ‘finger print’ profiles proposed for Lyft and Uber drivers. Austin taxi drivers have to take a state wide finger print check before they can access their permit.

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