In December 2020, Uber was fined $59 million by the California Public Utilities Commission for failing to provide requested sexual assault data. Now, however, that fine has been drastically reduced.
Uber has struck a deal with the California Public Utilities Commission, resulting in the $59 million fine being reduced to $150,000. This is according to a proposed agreement filed on July 15, 2021.
The reduced fine is only part of the deal that comes after months of discussion between Uber, the California Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division, and the nonprofit organization Abuse & Incest National Network.
According to CNN Business, Uber has agreed to provide anonymized data on sexual assault incidents. It will also give individuals reporting sexual assault incidents to opt-in to be contacted by the California Public Utilities Commission.
Uber also plans to contribute $5 million to the California Victims Compensation Board and $4 million toward developing industry-wide efforts. The California Victims Compensation Board assists victims of violence throughout the state. The industry-wide efforts Uber is currently discussing include developing practices on classifying, reporting, and responding to sexual assault reports.
While the California Public Utilities Commission can still reject the proposal or offer alternative terms, Uber’s senior vice president and chief legal officer released the following statement: “We’ve been able to find a path forward that preserves the privacy and agency of sexual assault survivors. We look forward to continued collaboration with the Commission to shine a light on this societal issue and help set the standard.”
The rideshare giant was originally fined when it released its safety transparency report in December 2019, and the California Public Utilities Commission requested more information. The report revealed nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018. The California Public Utilities Commission wanted more details about the incidents, including data, time, and location of each assault, the identity of the witness, and the name and contact information of the people who files the reports.
Uber rejected, claiming releasing just information could retraumatize survivors, and was fined. As part of the new agreement, Uber plans to provide information about employees who worked on the report under seal.
Lyft has also promised to put out a report but has yet to do so. When questioned, a company spokesperson said Lyft is waiting for Uber and the California Public Utilities Commission to resolve their dispute before releasing its report.
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