Uber appears to be having a bit of bother in its home state of California. The ride-hailing company has just been hit with a $7.3 million fine for failing to provide regulators in the Golden State with enough information about its operation there.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) accused Uber of holding back data on:
- How many times customers requested accessible vehicles and how often the company provided one,
- The number of requested and accepted rides broken down by zip code, and
- The number and cause of driver-related incidents.
The CPUC said it first asked the company to hand over the information last year but up to now it has failed to do so. Uber says it intends to appeal the decision in the next 30 days, an essential move if it doesn’t want its service suspended in the state.
Uber described the ruling as “disappointing” and insisted it’s already provided the CPUC with “substantial amounts” of data, adding that similar data had also been submitted to other bodies “with no complaints.”
The company said that providing more detailed information about its service ran the risk of “compromising the privacy of individual riders as well as driver-partners,” adding, “These CPUC requests are also beyond the remit of the commission and will not improve public safety.”
This latest run-in with officials in California is the second in the space of a month. In June, the state’s Labor Commission ruled that Uber drivers are employees, and not independent contractors as Uber classifies them, a decision that could lead to much higher costs for the company as it’d be responsible for benefits such as Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. Uber is appealing that decision, too.
Uber has a habit of attracting the interest of officials wherever it sets up shop, with most disputes arising over accusations of unfair competition or whether the service contravenes local taxi regulations. It’s certainly been having a tricky time in a number of European countries, battling with various bans at the same time as facing protests by taxi drivers that have sometimes led to trouble on the streets.
Despite the difficulties, Uber continues to operate in more than 300 cities around the world, with plenty of potential for growth.