Uber and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) are settling a two-year dispute over whether Uber should hand over records of sexual assaults and harassment cases.
Uber argued that disclosing records like these could be traumatic for the victims since CPUC particularly asked for names of all "witnesses", which includes those who were attacked and not just the attacker. As a result, Uber did not hand over the information and argued that it would be a "shocking violation of privacy" for the victims.
The CPUC later said that it only needed the information "under seal" and that the details of each individual case would be kept secret. CPUC further suggested that Uber's response was an "effort to frustrate commission oversight".
Back in December 2020, the CPUC fined Uber $59 million for refusing the comply. However, after Uber's appeal, the ride-hailing company agreed to pay a fine of $9 million which was part of the settlement between the CPUC’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division (CPED), Uber, and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
CPUC says that the $9 million will be used to support safety initiatives including:
- $5 million to the California Victims Compensation Board to be used for the victims of violence and sexual violence, with a recommendation to target these funds to outreach and to victims of sexual violence and violence taking place in the passenger carrier industry.
- $4 million for efforts to address physical and sexual violence in the passenger carrier industry, including contracts to be managed by CPED for the following:
- An industry wide evaluation of existing protocols and practices for classifying and reporting violence, including sexual violence.
- Development of recommendations for industry wide best practices for receiving, reporting, and responding to complaints of violence, including sexual violence.
- Development of industry wide education, outreach, and training on all forms of violence prevention, including sexual violence in the passenger carrier industry.
The CPUC further stated that Uber will pay an additional fine of $150,000 to the California state's General Fund.
In addition to fines, Uber will provide information on sexual assault and harassment to the CPUC on a going-forward basis, leveraging a unique identifier system to protect the identities of survivors when transferring data to the CPUC.