Dec 14, 2020 - Economy

California fines Uber $59 million over sexual assault data

Pedestrians walk past a signage displayed outside Uber Technologies headquarters on January 12, 2020 in San Francisco, California.

Photo: Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images

A judge ordered Uber on Monday to pay a $59 million fine to California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and threatened to suspend its state permit to operate if the firm fails to do so within 30 days.

The big picture: The judge found the ride-hailing giant had failed to share data with the regulator following Uber's safety report last year, which revealed that U.S. users reported nearly 6,000 incidents of sexual assault and harassment on trips made in 2017 and 2018.

"Uber is wrong when it argues that compliance [with earlier rulings] will violate a sexual assault victim’s privacy that California law is designed to protect. Rather than casting itself in the role of a victim of regulatory overreach, it is Uber who is playing the part of the obstructionist who has prevented the commission from carrying out its regulatory, investigative and enforcement duties."
— CPUC Administrative Law Judge Robert Mason

What they're saying: "We opposed this shocking violation of privacy, alongside many victims' rights advocates," Uber spokesperson Hasbun said in a statement to outlets about the CPUC's initial request that the company release victims' full names and contact information, adding that the regulator had since "changed its tune."

  • "We can provide anonymized information — yet we are also subject to a $59 million fine for not complying with the very order the CPUC has fundamentally altered," Hasbun said.

Of note: The ruling came on the same day that Uber and other gig companies began rolling out new benefits to California drivers.

Read the judge's findings, via DocumentCloud:

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