Uber fined $59 million for dodging questions on sexual assaults
Uber has 30 days to pay a $59 million high-quality to California’s Public Utilities Fee (CPUC) for failing to reply the regulator’s questions on a damning security report launched by the corporate in December 2019. If Uber doesn’t pay up and reply the excellent questions, CPUC may droop the corporate’s license to function within the state, an administrative regulation decide dominated on Monday.
It’s the most recent improvement in Uber’s lengthy historical past of hassle with violence and assault between its drivers and passengers — hassle that competitor Lyft shares, too. Information of the high-quality was first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.
The report, which Uber itself referred to as “jarring” on the time, detailed hundreds of sexual assaults within the US that occurred in 2017 and 2018 throughout journeys taken with the corporate’s ride-hailing platform. Whereas the 84-page report included a good quantity of knowledge in mixture, CPUC needed to know extra shortly after it was launched — particularly as a result of Uber admitted within the high-quality print that the report didn’t “assess or take any place on whether or not any of the reported incidents really occurred.”
The CPUC has regulatory authority over transportation firms within the state and usually investigates complaints in opposition to them. So it requested Uber a handful of questions on who authored the report, and likewise requested Uber for particular particulars on every incident of assault.
Uber by no means answered the questions, claiming that additional disclosure would current a privateness danger for each the assault survivors in addition to its workers. In January 2020, a decide denied the corporate’s request to keep away from answering, saying Uber may file the solutions underneath seal in an effort to defend confidentiality. Uber continued to combat answering the CPUC’s questions all year long till up Monday’s ruling, although.
Within the ruling, the decide described these efforts as little greater than “specious authorized roadblocks” meant to “frustrate the Fee’s capability to collect data” about whether or not Uber is working safely. They did, nonetheless, say that Uber can use “a code or another signifier reasonably than a sufferer’s identify” when it will definitely solutions the CPUC’s questions. The decide arrived on the $59 million determine by levying a $7,500 high-quality for each particular time that Uber refused to reply every query through the course of.
“Uber is a billion-dollar enterprise that may simply afford to pay … [e]ven throughout a pandemic the place ridership has undoubtedly declined,” the decide wrote.
The CPUC has been “insistent in its calls for that we launch the full names and contact data of sexual assault survivors with out their consent,” Uber stated in a press release to GadgetClock. “We opposed this surprising violation of privateness, alongside many victims’ rights advocates. Now, a 12 months later, the CPUC has modified its tune: we are able to present anonymized data—but we’re additionally topic to a $59 million high-quality for not complying with the very order the CPUC has essentially altered.”
Uber additional stated these “punitive and complicated actions will do nothing to enhance public security and can solely create a chilling impact as different firms take into account releasing their very own reviews. Transparency must be inspired, not punished.”
Replace December 14th, 6:36PM ET: Added statements from Uber.
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