Uber will pay $9 million (£6.8 million) to resolve a complaint in California about its sexual assault and harassment reporting.
Uber had been ordered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to pass over information regarding assaults and harassments, but it did not comply.
Uber said at the time that it would be a “shocking invasion of privacy” for victims.
The payment, which was cut from a $59 million punishment, would be used to promote passenger safety, according to the CPUC.
The agreement between Uber, the CPUC, and the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (Rainn) puts an end to a nearly two-year legal battle over whether Uber should send over information concerning reported events involving its drivers.
Uber claimed that making such information public would be upsetting for those who had been abused and would discourage future complaints – especially because the CPUC was requesting 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. Uber’s reaction was interpreted as a “attempt to impede commission oversight,” according to the report.
A year later, in December 2020, the CPUC penalized Uber $59 million (£44.5 million) for refusing to comply.
In the future, Uber will give information to California government using “unique IDs” rather than names to safeguard people’s identities. It would also create a “opt-in” mechanism for “survivors” who wish to tell state officials more about what happened.
“We can go forward with a solution that respects the privacy and agency of survivors,” Uber stated in a statement, adding, “Most importantly, we can move forward with a solution that preserves the privacy and agency of survivors.”
The CPUC said the planned $59 million punishment was reduced in part due to months of discussions in which “all parties gain advantages and provide sacrifices.”
The ride-hailing app has 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 be released. However, the initial report revealed that Uber received roughly 6,000 allegations of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018 – a small percentage of the more than two billion trips it conducted during that time, according to the firm.
It isn’t the only corporation with similar problems.
In its first safety report, released earlier this year, Lyft, another prominent ride-hailing app in the United States, recorded more than 4,000 incidences of sexual assault between 2017 and 2019.