Uber will pay $ 9 million (£ 6.8 million) to settle a complaint for its reports of sexual assaults and harassment in California.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) had told Uber to hand over information about assaults and harassment, but it did not.
At the time, Uber claimed it would be a “shocking invasion of privacy” for the victims.
The payment – reduced by an initial $ 59 million fine – will help finance the promotion of passenger safety, CPUC said.
The deal between Uber, CPUC and the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (Rainn) ends a nearly two-year dispute over whether Uber should hand over logs of reported incidents involving its drivers.
Uber had argued that disclosing such documents publicly could be traumatic for those who were attacked and could discourage reports in the future, particularly as the CPUC was asking for the names of all “witnesses” – which would include those attacked.
Rainn had raised similar concerns that California officials would be able to handle sensitive information with due care.
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But the CPUC said it only needed the information “under seal”, which meant that the details of each individual case would be kept secret. He suggested that Uber’s response was an “effort to frustrate the commission’s oversight.”
In December 2020, a year later, CPUC initially fined Uber $ 59 million (£ 44.5 million) for refusing to comply.
But after Uber’s appeal, he accepted this week’s deal of $ 9 million, whereby:
- $ 5 million will be spent on “victims of rape and sexual assault”, preferably those who were passengers
- $ 4 million will be spent on tackling violence in the “passenger carrier sector”
- Uber will pay an extra $ 150,000 to the California State General Fund
Uber will also provide reports to California officials from now on, using “unique identifiers” rather than names to protect people’s identities. It will also build an “opt-in” process for “survivors” who wish to provide more information on what happened to state officials.
In a statement, Uber said he was “delighted that the entire commission has adopted this agreement,” adding, “Above all, we can move forward with a solution that preserves the privacy and agency of survivors.”
The CPUC said the reduction of the planned $ 59 million fine was, in part, reduced to months of negotiations in which “all parties gain advantage and make concessions.”
The ride-hailing app had been under pressure to reveal details about its safety record and first released its U.S.-based safety report in December 2019, with a promise to release an additional report every two. years.
The 2021 edition has not yet been published. But the first report showed that Uber had nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assaults in 2017 and 2018 – a number the company pointed out it was a small fraction of the more than two billion rides provided in that period.
It is not the only company of its kind to address such problems.
Lyft, another popular app in the United States, reported over 4,000 sexual assault incidents between 2017 and 2019 in its first safety report released earlier this year.
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