Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
california, cpuc, data, privacy, puc

Companies:
uber



Judge Says Uber Should Be Shut Down In California

from the another-day,-another-problem dept

Uber appears to be a company that just can't get out of the way of controversy. The week actually started out good for the company with New York announcing that Uber drivers were clearly contractors rather than employees (unlike a California labor commission ruling that went the other way). However, on Wednesday afternoon an administrative judge in California declared that the company's services should be suspended statewide for supposedly refusing to provide data that it's required to provide under a 2013 law that helped "legalize" the service (that was already widely in use at the time).

Uber, for its part, insists that it delivered the necessary info and promises to appeal the ruling (which also includes a $7.3 million fine, which is pocket change for the company right now). It also appears to hint that the information that the Public Utilities Commission is seeking would actually violate the company's privacy policies.
In a statement, an Uber spokeswoman called the decision "deeply disappointing."

"We will appeal the decision as Uber has already provided substantial amounts of data to the California Public Utilities Commission, information we have provided elsewhere with no complaints," spokeswoman Laura Zapata said. "Going further risks compromising the privacy of individual riders as well as driver-partners."
The details seem to involve what kinds of data Uber was supposed to turn over, including specifics about requests from users with service animals or wheelchairs. Uber apparently didn't have the ability to track that information in the past, though it does now. On the flip side, the California PUC argues that companies in the space were given a year to comply, and thus Uber had plenty of time to make sure it was compliant and failed to do so.
As part of the 2013 law that legalized ride-hailing in California, companies are required to prepare an annual report with data about rides provided through the app.

Uber's 2014 report did not include hard numbers on customers who requested cars to accommodate service animals or wheelchairs, nor how often those requests were fulfilled, the judge said. The company also didn't provide raw numbers on requests for rides tabulated by ZIP Code, and how many of those rides were fulfilled, instead providing “aggregates, averages and percentages,” and a heat map showing which ZIP Codes generally saw the most requests.

Uber also failed to submit complete information on drivers who have been suspended or committed a violation, the judge said. The company did not provide the “cause of the incident reported,” or the amount paid out by any insurance company other than Uber's.
It would appear that the company and its lawyers are going to remain rather busy for the foreseeable future. It is, frankly, somewhat surprising that Uber didn't do more to comply with these requests, even if it disagrees with need to hand over such information. Not fully complying was always going to end badly. There may be legitimate privacy arguments for Uber to make here, but it doesn't seem like playing games with the CPUC is the best way to make that point.

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  • identicon
    Uberalls, 16 Jul 2015 @ 1:38am

    It is, frankly, somewhat surprising that Uber didn't do more to comply with these requests, even if it disagrees with need to hand over such information. Not fully complying was always going to end badly. There may be legitimate privacy arguments for Uber to make here, but it doesn't seem like playing games with the CPUC is the best way to make that point.

    Pigs fly! Hell freezes over! Mike Masnick (gently) criticizes Uber!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 3:04am

    As part of the 2013 law that legalized ride-hailing in California, companies are required to prepare an annual report with data about rides provided through the app.
    So Uber shouldn't be subject to this law. With Uber you get on the app and they contact the drivers in your local area so the nearest one can go to where you are. This is like private hire taxis in the UK where you get on the phone to ring your preferred firm, and they get on the radio to all their cars in your local area so the nearest one can go pick you up. In contrast, ride hailing is when you lift your arm up in the street or give a loud whistle and a passing taxi stops so you can get in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jake, 16 Jul 2015 @ 5:56am

      Re:

      Indeed. Someone spotted that loophole back in the 1960s, and instead of going after the private-hire operators for "felony interference in a business model" we figured out a sensible set of rules for them to operate within and let them get on with it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Drawoc Suomynona (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:06am

    Uber does seem to pick and choose which laws it wants to follow and which it chooses to ignore, and where. Either that or things are just moving so fast that they're making it up as they go along. Risky either way with those kinda semolians involved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    andy, 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:55am

    HAHAHA

    The courts were going to shut the down no matter what so why not make it a problem they can easily resolve...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Falindraun (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 7:29am

    in all honesty i would have told the Public Utilities Commission to puc off and sued them over their perceived right to require this kind of information to begin with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 7:44am

    Shut down Uber campaign

    "Nevada becomes first state to shut down Uber"
    "Uber shuts down in Kansas"
    "Can the Taxi Union Get the Courts to Shut down Uber..." (DC)
    "Boston Taxi Drivers to Hold Rally to Shut Down Uber"
    "Braintree license board may shut down Uber"
    "Toronto attempting to shut down Uber service within city limits"
    "Judges asked to shut down Uber, Lyft in Pittsburgh"
    "Parking authority threatens to shut down Uber service..." (Philadelphia)
    "French government to shut down Uber after violent protests..."
    "Petition · Colorado PUC: Don't Shut Down Uber!! Withdraw..."
    "Plaia: Portsmouth should shut down UBER X service"
    "ALJ Recommends Rules to Shut Down Uber Denver… AGAIN!"
    "City of Portland sues Uber in bid to shut taxi service down"
    .
    .
    .
    [more excuses to come] to Shut Down Uber

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris in Utah (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:18am

    ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFgAsUQXYAA

    Wake up mike, its not often I can catch you in FUD but this is pretty basic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:31am

      Re: ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE

      Wake up mike, its not often I can catch you in FUD but this is pretty basic.

      Oh a cab driver, great source of objective information about Uber.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 9:02am

      Re: ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE

      And linking to a YouTube vid about Uber allegedly tax dodging by a guy whose book is being sold by a company that's avoided a much larger amount of UK taxes proves what exactly? Come back when you have evidence of your accusation by somebody who isn't such a bloody hypocrite. 'Kay?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Chris in Utah (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 1:47pm

        Re: Re: ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE

        Seriously missing the f'n point. Its a corporate entity. Get it now?

        If you don't ask yourself how far up your end it has to be before you realize your a puppet.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Sheogorath (profile), 17 Jul 2015 @ 9:31am

          Re: Re: Re: ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE

          [...] you realize your a puppet.
          No, I didn't realise you're my puppet, but thanks for informing me (watch your homophones).
          And just so you know, you basically just accused of being a shill of Uber someone who has absolutely no connection with the company, not even to use its services. Assumption much?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    nasch (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:34am

    "We will appeal the decision as Uber has already provided substantial amounts of data to the California Public Utilities Commission, information we have provided elsewhere with no complaints,"

    What a weird statement. They seem to think all that's necessary is to provide some amount of data that Uber feels is "substantial", and sufficient to satisfy some authority in some jurisdiction where they operate. I imagine the California court issuing the order feels Uber needs to comply with the actual California law. I wouldn't guess this will end well for Uber.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 16 Jul 2015 @ 8:50am

    The data that was omitted was obviously omitted for a specific reason. It would make Uber look incredibly biased towards wealthy clients that live in wealthy neighborhoods.

    Uber ride fulfillment in troubled neighborhoods and for handicapped/service animals is horrible. How do I know that? Because if it was good they would be shouting it from the mountaintop.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Teka, 16 Jul 2015 @ 9:24am

      Re:

      I hear that while Uber is usually considered very efficient and useful it is not considered cheap or low-budget.

      You might as well complain that luxury flower delivery companies are horrible for receiving and fulfilling few orders in low income neighborhoods or call out interior decorators for their lack of service in low-budget student housing apartments.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 9:14am

    How do you win this game?

    Rule #1) It is illegal for you to divulge any of your customers private information to anyone, including us.

    Rule #2) You must provide a report including details of your customers private information to us.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OGquaker (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 2:00pm

    The Hood

    Uber / Lyft have saved my ass a few times this year. I don't believe i have seen a 'permited' cab driving on this major street more than once or twice in the last TWENTY SEVEN years, except for the drunk YellowCab driver that sleeps in his 'licenced' car around the corner. Phuc 'permited' cabbies, and our governing-entity's graft and protection money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 6:02pm

    Was ist dort verboten?

    California? Alles Uber.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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