Oi, you, no flirting, no touching in the back of our rides, sniffs Uber

Taxi app maker's stiff no-sex policy grows, thrusts rules in our faces amid Xmas party season

Two women hailing a ride

Flirting with an Uber driver could be enough to get you banned from the ride sharing service, according to revised Community Guidelines for US passengers and drivers, published by the company on Thursday.

In a blog post, Rachel Holt, Uber regional manager for the US and Canada, explains that the company is revising its rules – and for the first time clarifying the criteria for banning passengers – because "we want everyone to enjoy the ride."

But only if that ride isn't atop another person in the vehicle. "As our community guidelines make clear, you shouldn't touch or flirt with other people in the car," the rules state, noting that Uber forbids sexual conduct involving drivers or passengers.

The company's previous version of its rules made it clear that sexual conduct could result in being banned. The specific prohibition of flirting is new.

As an account in an Uber driver forum suggests, some passengers do flirt with Uber drivers.

But Uber may be more concerned about passengers receiving unwanted attention from drivers. Last month, the company settled a lawsuit brought by two women that sought to hold the company liable for alleged sexual assaults. It settled another such case involving a New Delhi woman in September.

In May, UK tabloid The Sun reported that in the twelve-month period ending in February, London's Metropolitan police had received 154 sexual assault allegations involving drivers of taxis and related forms of hired transport. Of those, 32 involved Uber drivers.

While the number of sexual assaults involving Uber drivers remains a difficult figure to pin down, it's clear the company would prefer for everyone to behave.

Vomiting has also been cited as an infraction that may result in a ban now, but only under certain circumstances – specifically, excessive alcohol consumption. Vomit arising from motion-sickness, bad sushi, or the sound of Coldplay, while not explicitly disallowed, can be expected to remain unappreciated.

The revised rules also advise against asking overly personal questions, without defining the line between inquisitive and invasive. It's unclear whether "Do you prefer driving for Uber or Lyft?" would qualify.

Allegations of rule violations, assuming law enforcement authorities haven't become involved, must be confirmed by an Uber investigation. So any action taken, as it was before, remains a matter of company discretion. ®

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