Uber is facing problems on every front. Taxi drivers think they’re the devil’s work and those who use the service complain about safety and reliability. Regulators are none too happy either and in California they’ve made plain their displeasure by slapping Uber with a $7.3 million fine and recommending that the company be prevented from operating in the state.
California is Uber’s home turf so this blow carries quite the sting. It all comes from Karen V. Clopton, chief administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission. Her decision is based on Uber’s failure to fully comply with state reporting laws.
The laws require Uber to provide data proving their drivers are giving rides to all passengers fairly no matter who they are or where they may live. This was one of the key facets of the 2013 law that legalized ride-sharing companies in the state.
Uber has refused to provide all the required data for the last few months which led to Clopton’s decision. The missing pieces include details on the number of rides requested by those with service animals or wheelchairs and how often Uber followed through and provided those passengers with rides. There is also missing data on the date, time, zip code, and fare paid for rides.
Uber is appealing the decision and claims they are providing plenty of data to the state of California. They say handing over additional data at a more detailed level would risk invading the privacy of both those who use the service and Uber’s own drivers.
The law also requires Uber to provide details on drivers who have been suspended or committed violations. This information was incomplete, missing pieces like how much insurance companies other than Uber’s have paid in claims.
The appeals process could go on for months and, according to the LA Times, will likely result in Uber paying the fine and providing the missing data. Being banned from operating in their home state is something Uber simply cannot afford in the midst of the controversy surrounding its operation around the world.
Even in the United States, there are places where it’s illegal for Uber to operate. Kansas has laws on the books that, while not specifically mentioning Uber, make it impossible for them to do business under the current model.
The $7.3 million fine is certainly something Uber doesn’t want to pay, but fighting the state is a battle they aren’t likely to win.