Uber appeals $ 59 million fine in California over sexual assault data request

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In this news, we discuss the Uber appeals $ 59 million fine in California over sexual assault data request

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(Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc on Wednesday appealed a $ 59 million fine by a California regulator in a dispute over whether the company should share detailed information about the sexual assault and harassment allegations reported on its carpooling platform.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) fined Uber in December after the company refused to share the information, including full names and contact details, arguing it would violate victims’ right to privacy.

On Monday, an anti-sexual abuse group also appealed the decision and supported “Uber’s transparency and commitment to protect survivors.”

Uber chief legal officer Tony West said in an interview on Tuesday that no regulator had previously asked Uber for personally identifiable information about victims of sexual assault, and said the CPUC had not revealed why he needed this data.

“While it may be well-intentioned, (contacting these people) may lead to further trauma for survivors,” West said, adding that Uber had repeatedly offered to resolve the dispute outside of litigation.

The CPUC did not respond to a request for comment.

In the December order, a CPUC administrative judge said confidentiality issues could be addressed by replacing the names of the victims with a code allowing commission staff to conduct follow-up investigations, but maintained the the company was fined $ 59 million.

Dispute stems from a security report released by Uber in December 2019, revealing 6,000 reports of sexual assault related to 2.3 billion trips to the United States in 2017 and 2018.

The report, aimed at reassuring drivers and the public that Uber was serious about safety, put the company in the spotlight. US rival Lyft Inc has promised a similar report, but has yet to release it.

On Monday, the RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) advocacy group appealed the CPUC order.

“Businesses should be commended, not penalized, for being transparent and committed to protecting survivors,” the nonprofit wrote in a public record.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Edited by David Gregorio

Original © Thomson Reuters

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