An administrative judge for the state commission regulating Uber has levied a $7.6 million fine and threatened to oust the ride-sharing service from its home state for failing to report certain data.
Under a decision handed down Wednesday by chief administrative law judge Karen Clopton of the California Public Utilities Commission, the popular ride-sharing company has 30 days to pay the penalty and comply with reporting requirements or else its operating license in California will be suspended.
The data in question are used to determine whether transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft are fairly serving customers regardless of disability or location.
The CPUC has been in charge of regulating ride-sharing companies since 2013, requiring each company to obtain a permit. Drivers are independent contractors picking up passengers who request rides via cell phone, paying a flat or pre-determined rate with their credit cards.
Uber plans to appeal the latest decision, and a spokeswoman called the ruling “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,” Eva Behrend said in a statement. “Going further risks compromising the privacy of individual riders as well as driver-partners. These CPUC requests are also beyond the authority of the commission and will not improve public safety.”
This is the latest setback for the industry giant, founded in San Francisco in 2009 and touted as cheaper than regular cabs. Uber has since spread to cities in 57 countries.
Traditional taxis aren’t huge fans, claiming Uber violates a no-hail policy — another CPUC rule — and isn’t as safe because its drivers don’t have to secure individual business licenses and permits from the city like their more seasoned counterparts.
There’s also an ongoing liability debate over whether Uber drivers are employees or contractors.
Uber launched locally in October 2013, and representatives have called Santa Barbara an exemplar market. Lyft followed in 2014.
In her ruling, Clopton said Uber was the only transportation network company that failed to comply with reporting requirements, due last September.
The missing data include the number and percentage of customers who requested handicap-accessible vehicles and how often the drivers were able to comply with requests, number of rides requested within each ZIP code where Uber operates, number of rides requested but not accepted and amount paid, along with driver safety information.
The administrative law judge will review Uber’s appeal and either make changes to the decision or uphold it in the months-long process.
The decision would then come before the full commission for a vote.