Uber appeals California’s $59M fine over data on sexual assaults

Uber appeals California's $59M fine over data on sexual assaults

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Uber was the first ride-hailing company to voluntarily issue a transparency report about serious safety incidents.

Angela Lang / CNET

California Public Utilities Commission Uber was fined $ 59 million in December. To deny detailed information about sexual assaults occurring during his ride. The ride-healing company had 30 days to pay. As the deadline for next week expired, Uber appealed the order on Wednesday.

Dispute stems back 84-page “Security Transparency” Report Voluntarily published in December 2019, Uber showed around 6,000 cases of sexual harassment during its ride in 2017 and 2018. After releasing that report, the CPCC asked Uber for further data for each incident because it is the state’s agency responsible for regulating transportation companies.

“For the past year, we have been asking them to rethink the approach that is listening down [survivor] Advocates, “Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, said in an interview Tuesday.” Unfortunately, those requests have been rebuffed repeatedly. Instead, now, the CPU is back with this astronomical penalty against Uber. “

Over the years, hundreds of passengers and drivers have come forward alleging sexual harassment during the ride. In many cases against Uber, people have been brought up saying that they were raped, kidnapped and abducted by service drivers. Similar allegations have been leveled against Uber’s rival Lyft, against whom more than 50 women have been accused of sexual harassment by their drivers. Lyft also promised to publish a security report in May 2018, but it has not yet been released.

In an effort to reduce sexual assaults, Uber has added several security features to its app. They include Sending notifications There is an unexpected long halt and a text-to-911 facility if on the way for drivers and riders. Uber has also promised to issue a safety transparency report every two years.

“The fact that Uber has gone out and is showing the world the data they have [on sexual assaults] Was a big step forward, “said Scott Berkewitz, founder and president of the anti-sexual organization RAINN, which has partnered with Uber for Survivor Resources. We want other companies to be similarly transparent about what they are doing. ”

In its requests for additional data from Uber, CPUC sought personal information from survivors of sexual harassment stating that it could be kept sealed and confidential. The agency said that having such material can help prevent future incidents and ensure that ride-hailing is going on safely in the state. Uber refused to provide the data, arguing that handing over such information could hurt victims again and endanger their anonymity.

“It’s about more than just Uber vs. a regulator on some regulatory issue,” West said. “It’s really about protecting living people and acting in a survival-focused way.”

The CPCC said in its decision in December that the company, along with Uber, had “inserted a number of legal legal hurdles” to thwart the Commission’s ability to gather information. The agency also said, however, that Uber could provide data in an anonymous format using a code or any other signer other than the victim’s name.

In its appeal on Wednesday, Uber said it was contradictory for the CPC to “accept that victims of sexual assault are entitled to protect their personal information” but still recover millions of dollars. It also said that “harsh and unlawful fines send a threatening message to anyone who stands for the privacy and autonomy of sexual assault victims due to intrusive demands.”

Finally, if Uber loses this battle, it will be forced to pay a fine and may revoke its license to operate in the state of California.

CPUC did not respond to a request for comment.

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