Uber had earlier refused to hand over sexual assault reporting data, citing concern for victims’ privacy.
Uber has agreed to pay California $9 million after refusing to supply state regulators with information about sexual assault claims made against its customers and drivers in the past two years.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the agreement between the California Public Utilities Commission, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, and Uber was reached Thursday.
While the lawsuit will oblige Uber to pay approximately $9 million in damages, the money will be invested in funds intended to prevent sexual abuse and enhance victims’ services. Of the total award, $5 million will go to the California Victim Compensation Board, while another $4 million will be allocated to initiatives against physical and sexual violence in the ride-sharing industry.
An additional $150,000 will be paid as a fine to the state’s general fund.
Aside from the financial compensation, Uber said that, in the future, it will release sexual assault data.
As LegalReader.com has reported before, Uber had earlier argued that requests to provide sexual assault data violate victims’ privacy, since any such report would necessarily include their names and contact information.
The Uber app open on a user’s smartphone. Image by Ryan J. Farrick.RAINN, the nonprofit party to the lawsuit, had supported Uber in its filing.
In response to Uber and RAINN’s arguments, California regulators altered their request. Now, reports will be provided “leveraging a unique identifier system to protect the identities of survivors when transferring data” to the Public Utilities Commission.
Sexual assault survivors will also be able to “opt-in” to the state’s investigation, if they wish to provide additional information or details they believe may be of use to California regulators.
Uber spokesperson Jodi Kawada Page said the ride-share company is pleased with the settlement.
“We’re glad that the full commission has adopted this agreement, which was developed in collaboration with CPUC staff and experts from RAINN,” Kawada Pages said. “Most importantly, we can move froward with a solution that preserves the privacy and agency of survivors.”
The Los Angeles Times notes that, in spite of the seven-figure settlement, the $9 million falls significantly short of the state’s expectations: last winter, the California Public Utilities Commission told Uber that it had the authority to impose tens of millions of dollars in fines if the company did not cooperate with requests for safety information.
While an administrative law judge ordered Uber to pay $59 million in damages in December 2019, the company appealed; a mediator was then assigned to the case, and Uber settled with the state this past summer.
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