The California Public Utility Commission has slapped Uber with a $59 million advantageous for refusing handy over detailed information on greater than 1,200 alleged sexual assaults involving Uber drivers in California between 2017 and 2019.
“The CPUC has been insistent in its demands that we release the full names and contact information of sexual assault survivors without their consent,” Uber stated in an announcement on Monday. “We opposed this shocking violation of privacy, alongside many victims’ rights advocates.”
Uber disclosed the existence of 1000’s 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 call info of witnesses. The CPUC order would not particularly ask for the names of victims. However, in lots of circumstances the sufferer can be the one witness, so CPUC was basically searching for to unmask a whole lot of sexual assault victims.
Uber objected, noting that a lot of the victims had not consented to have their identities or tales shared with third events. Even if the information had been saved confidential, Uber argued, a CPUC investigation of those circumstances might pressure victims to revisit probably the most traumatic moments of their lives.
In a revised order, the CPUC allowed Uber to submit the data below seal to make sure that the info didn’t turn into public. But past that, the CPUC refused to budge, issuing a second order in January demanding that Uber flip over the info.
“Retraumatization of Victims”
Victims’ rights teams just like the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN) rallied to Uber’s protection. “RAINN is exceedingly concerned that the Commission’s ruling” directs Uber to “share a list of victim names, contact information, and additional incident details with the Commission, without the consent of the victims,” the group wrote in an August submitting with the CPUC.
“The vast majority of sexual assault victims choose not to report to police,” RAINN added. “Surely, they never envisioned that a state regulatory commission would require disclosure of information that they, themselves, have explicitly decided to not share with the state.”
RAINN argued that enforcement of the CPUC’s calls for would “nullify each victim’s right to decide when, and to whom, to disclose their assault” and would “risk re-traumatization of victims.”
But the CPUC appeared unmoved by these arguments, whether or not they got here from Uber or from teams like RAINN. In a ruling on Monday, the company held that “this decision does not require the public disclosure of such information that could potentially traumatize the victims a second time.” Instead, the company reasoned, the foundations “require only that the information regarding sexual assaults and sexual harassment be submitted to the Commission under seal.”
The CPUC concluded that Uber had “refused, without any legitimate legal or factual grounds, to comply” with the info request. The company held that Uber’s actions had been notably extreme as a result of that they had “harmed the regulatory process.”
In setting a advantageous, the CPUC is meant to contemplate whether or not a celebration’s actions had been within the public curiosity. But in Uber’s case, the company concluded that “there are no facts to mitigate the degree of Uber’s wrongdoing.” So the CPUC slapped Uber with a harsh $59 million penalty.
“Transparency Should Be Encouraged”
Ironically, after hitting Uber with a large advantageous for refusing to call sexual assault victims, the ruling permits Uber to submit its knowledge in anonymized type.
“Uber shall work with the Commission’s staff to develop a code or numbering system as a substitute for the actual names and other personally identifiable information” 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 firm’s resolution to publish statistics about sexual assault and different crimes towards its passengers set a brand new commonplace for transparency, however the report appears to have attracted additional scrutiny from California regulators.
“These punitive and confusing actions will do nothing to improve public safety and will only create a chilling effect as other companies consider releasing their own reports,” Uber stated in its assertion. “Transparency should be encouraged, not punished.”
This story initially appeared on Ars Technica.
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