More Regulation for Uber?

It appears that the ride sharing taxi application, Uber, is once again facing regulatory hurdles, this time from the biggest regulatory agency in the State – the California Public Utilities Commission. Normally this agency is better known for rules governing our water rates and power supply, but in the case of Uber it comes down something a little smaller, in fact, something largely unseen: data. According to a recent court ruling last week, Uber was fined $7.3 million dollars and was threatened to have all of its California service suspended for 30 days, all for not turning over data requested by the CPUC.

The data in question is fairly trivial. The CPUC wanted information on how many people were given rides who either have legally recognized service animals, and those who need wheelchairs. The CPUC also wanted information regarding the zip code location of where these rides were taking place, and data on the fare cost. Uber for its part claims that it has already provided the CPUC with troves of data, and in the interest of rider and driver privacy have refused to give out anymore, electing instead to appeal the decision.

The appeals process is sure to be an uphill battle however, as the data requested is actually explicitly mentioned in the very California law that legally recognized car and ride sharing services like Uber. Furthermore, the CPUC notified Uber of the pending request for information over a year ago before they filed suit, so it is quite unlikely that they didn’t know about it.

Uber, which was recently valued at over $50 billion after receiving another cash injection of $5.9 billion, can likely handle the paltry $7.3 million dollar fine. However, a suspension of the ride booking service for 30 days in its largest and home market would be devastating, leaving the door wide open for their primary competitor, Lyft. And Uber’s reaction is not without a sense of hubris to openly defy the CPUC, an organization normally charged with reigning in the likes of PG&E and other major utilities (albeit under heavy accusations of corruption). On what grounds Uber plans to appeal the decision is still unclear, and the higher courts are certainly not without their politics, something Uber would do best to take a bit more seriously.

Is a 30 day suspension of service and a $7.3 million dollar fine a worthy punitive measure for Uber, or does it go too far? Does the release of the above mentioned data jeopardize Uber user’s privacy, or is it a cop out for openly defying a law? Let us know what you think – vote and comment below.

Fine Uber 7.3 Million and Suspend California Service 30 daysA recent court ruling has ordered that Uber pay $7.3 million dollars in fines and have their service suspended in California for 30 days because they failed to comply with the information requests of State regulators. The California Public Utilities Commission had originally requested information on riders with disabilities and service animals, as well as fares and location information over a year ago, as part of the 2013 California law that legalized ride sharing and mobile ride booking. Uber claims that the information would violate the privacy of its customers and has thus refused.



 

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