Uber has reportedly agreed to pay about US$9 million to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) after the ride-hailing service refused to hand over data about riders and drivers who were sexually assaulted and then paid a separate US$150,000 fine according to the new settlement agreement reached on Thursday.
With that said, the CPUC will now give about US$5 million to the California Victim Compensation Fund while another US$4 million will “go to address physical and sexual violence in the passenger carrier industry,” according to The San Francisco Chronicle, which reported on the agreement Thursday.
Uber will still have to provide data about the assaults to the CPUC even though it will remove any potentially identifying information.
Back in December of 2020, Uber was fined by the CPUC and threatened to suspend its license to operate in the state after the company failed to answer questions about a safety report which it published a year prior.
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That 84-page report included aggregate data about thousands of sexual assaults in the US in 2017 and 2018 during trips taken with the company’s ride-hailing service.
Uber declined to provide more specific information about the assaults when the CPUC came asking to know more information about who at the company authored the report, especially as Uber admitted in the fine print that it didn’t “assess or take any position on whether any of the reported incidents actually occurred.” (The CPUC has regulatory authority over transportation companies in California and regularly investigates complaints against them.)
However, Uber still refused to answer the CPUC’s questions and hand over the data on the grounds that it would put sexual assault survivors at risk. It further appealed the CPUC’s fine back in January as it called the initial US$59 million fine extraordinary and said the CPUC was “penaliz[ing] Uber for its good-faith efforts to stand with survivors.”