Young businesswoman sitting on backseat of a car using cell phone

The California Public Utility Fee has slapped Uber with a $59 million tremendous for refusing handy over detailed information about greater than 1,200 alleged sexual assaults involving Uber drivers in California between 2017 and 2019.

“The CPUC has been insistent in its calls for that we launch the total names and phone info of sexual assault survivors with out their consent,” Uber stated in a Monday assertion. “We opposed this surprising violation of privateness, alongside many victims’ rights advocates.”

Uber disclosed the existence of hundreds of sexual assaults nationwide in its 2019 security report. Afterward, the CPUC demanded detailed details about circumstances that occurred in California—together with the time and place the place assaults occurred and names and phone info of witnesses. The CPUC order would not particularly ask for the names of victims. Nevertheless, in lots of circumstances the sufferer could be the one witness, so CPUC was basically looking for to unmask lots of of sexual assault victims.

Uber objected, noting that many of the victims had not consented to have their identities or tales shared with third events. Even when the information had been stored confidential, Uber argued, a CPUC investigation of those circumstances may power victims to revisit one of the traumatic moments of their lives.

In a revised order, the CPUC allowed Uber to submit the knowledge below seal to make sure that the info didn’t grow to be public. However past that, the CPUC refused to budge, issuing a second order in January demanding that Uber flip over the info.

“Re-traumatization of victims”

Victims’ rights teams just like the Rape Abuse Incest Nationwide Community (RAINN) rallied to Uber’s protection. “RAINN is exceedingly involved that the Fee’s ruling” directs Uber to “share a listing of sufferer names, contact info, and extra incident particulars with the Fee, with out the consent of the victims,” the group wrote in an August submitting with the CPUC.

“The overwhelming majority of sexual assault victims select to not report back to police,” RAINN added. “Absolutely, they by no means envisioned {that a} state regulatory fee would require disclosure of data that they, themselves, have explicitly determined to not share with the state.”

RAINN argued that enforcement of the CPUC’s calls for would “nullify every sufferer’s proper to resolve when, and to whom, to reveal their assault” and would “danger re-traumatization of victims.”

However the CPUC appeared unmoved by these arguments, whether or not they got here from Uber or from teams like RAINN. In a Monday ruling, the company held that “this resolution doesn’t require the public disclosure of such info that might probably traumatize the victims a second time.” As a substitute, the company reasoned, the foundations “require solely that the knowledge concerning sexual assaults and sexual harassment be submitted to the Fee below seal.”

The CPUC concluded that Uber had “refused, with none reputable authorized or factual grounds, to conform” with the info request. The company held that Uber’s actions had been significantly extreme as a result of that they had “harmed the regulatory course of.”

In setting a tremendous, the CPUC is meant to contemplate whether or not a celebration’s actions had been within the public curiosity. However in Uber’s case, the company concluded that “there are not any information to mitigate the diploma of Uber’s wrongdoing.” So the CPUC slapped Uber with a harsh $59 million penalty.

“Transparency ought to be inspired”

Mockingly, after hitting Uber with a large tremendous for refusing to call sexual assault victims, the ruling permits Uber to submit its knowledge in anonymized kind.

“Uber shall work with the Fee’s workers to develop a code or numbering system as an alternative to the precise names and different personally identifiable info” of victims and witnesses to assault circumstances, the ruling stated.

Uber appears to be the one taxi or ride-hailing service that has confronted these sorts of questions from the CPUC. The corporate’s resolution to publish statistics about sexual assault and different crimes towards its passengers set a brand new customary for transparency, however the report appears to have attracted further scrutiny from California regulators.

“These punitive and complicated actions will do nothing to enhance public security and can solely create a chilling impact as different corporations think about releasing their very own reviews,” Uber stated in its assertion. “Transparency ought to be inspired, not punished.”

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