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Thursday, January 14, 2016

California Public Utilities Commission Fines Uber $7.6 Million For Failure to Turn Over Data

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 12:32 PM

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The California Public Utilities Commission ruled today that Uber, the San Francisco-based ride-hail company (and new prison-to-work pipeline), will be fined $7.6 million for failing to meet the state’s data reporting requirements. Uber has vowed to appeal the ruling, but, as the Los Angeles Times reports, has agreed to pay the fine to avoid  a 30-day license suspension.

The PUC wants Uber’s driver data so it knows if the company is serving passengers in diverse neighborhoods and meeting accessibility requirements. In 2013, the PUC created reporting mandates for "New Online Enabled Transportation Services" or "Transportation Network Companies," including Uber. Per the LA Times, taxis provide that same data, as does Lyft, Uber’s top rival (fresh off a $500 million infusion from GM).

The fine is a drop in the bucket given Uber’s $62.5 billion valuation — indeed, it feels more symbolic than punitive at this point. But it dovetails with a more aggressive investigation of the company’s labor and business practices, including the class-action lawsuit set to rock Uber — and the entire sharing economy — this year.

In that suit, which SF Weekly reported on last month, roughly 150,000 of Uber’s estimated 160,000 California drivers are suing the company for misclassifying them as independent contractors. No matter who wins the case, there’ll be big reverberations for startups that exploit their 1099 workforce.

“We look forward to making our case to the California Court of Appeals,” an Uber spokesperson told the LA Times


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Jeremy Lybarger

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