Uber has agreed to pay $9 million (£6.8 million) to resolve a complaint in California about its sexual assault and harassment reporting. It had been ordered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to turn over information about assaults and harassment, but it refused.
At the time, Uber claimed it would be a shocking invasion of privacy for victims.
The agreement between Uber, the CPUC, and the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (Rainn) puts an end to a nearly two-year-long argument over whether Uber should send over records concerning reported events involving its drivers.
Uber stated that disclosing such information would be disturbing to people who had been harmed and would discourage future reports, particularly since the CPUC was collecting the identities of all witnesses, which would include those who had been assaulted.
Rainn has expressed similar reservations about California officials’ ability to handle the sensitive material with care. The CPUC, on the other hand, stated that it simply required the information under seal, which meant that the specifics of each case would be kept private. A year later, in December 2020, the CPUC penalised Uber for refusing to comply with $59 million (£44.5 million).
In the future, Uber will give information to the California government using unique IDs rather than names to protect people’s identities. It would also create an opt-in process for survivors who wish to tell state officials more about what happened.
The ride-hailing app had been under pressure to divulge information about its safety record, and it did so in December 2019, with the promise of releasing another report every two years.
The edition for 2021 has yet to come out. However, the initial report revealed that Uber received almost 6,000 allegations of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018 – a small percentage of the over two billion rides it delivered during that time, according to the firm.
In its first safety report, released earlier this year, Lyft, another prominent ride-hailing app in the United States, reported almost 4,000 sexual assaults between 2017 and 2019.