"Despite its self-proclaimed commitment to safety, opening the Uber app and setting the pick-up location has proven to be the modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking," the lawsuit states, according to AFP.
The plaintiff also asks for an overhaul of Uber's safety practices, including localized customer support centers and in-car video surveillance, Reuters reported.
India is Uber's largest market after the US, according to Reuters, and the app-based ride service was banned there following the attack, which occurred on December 5. However, services restarted in the country on January 23, and the company applied for a taxi license. Meanwhile, the service will operate without taking commission from drivers, according to the India Times.
In the company’s marketing materials, Uber tells customers that it employs background checks for its drivers, and uses a female customer’s testimony to illustrate the sense of safety using Uber brings because drivers are accountable for their actions. However, this is not the case in India, where drivers did not face background checks at the time of the attack.
The woman's lawyer is Douglas H. Wigdor, who has a high profile after representing a hotel maid who accused a former International Monetary Fund chief in 2012 of sexual assault, according to Reuters.
The issue has also created public debate in India over the regulation of app-based taxi services, with some media outlets criticizing the decision to ban them in Delhi, and suggesting greater oversight of the industry. An online petition was launched on Change.org in December, asking Uber to conduct background checks in India, criticizing the company for its “double standards.”