Courtesy photoWhere Uber’s drivers go and who they pick up could result in fines or even having its operating license stripped if it fails to comply with a CPUC directive.

Uber may be fined for refusal to comply with driver, rider data request

Uber could face harsh penalties for refusing to cooperate with state regulators over a data request.

A California Public Utilities Commission judge is threatening to revoke Uber's license to operate in the state following the ride-service company's monthlong refusal to give the regulator information on its drivers and riders.

“They're not providing us with the data we've asked for,” said Marzia Zafar, director of CPUC's policy and planning division. A CPUC hearing on the matter could come this week and would determine the next steps, she said.

The case arose in September 2013 when the CPUC began regulating companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, officially dubbing them transportation network companies.

But the legalization came with a price: The entities were required to submit data on how many drivers they have, where they drive and who they pick up, among other measures.

Lyft and Sidecar eventually complied with the reporting directives, Zafar said, but Uber remains defiant.

With the data, the CPUC hopes to find out more about such things as how many pickup requests people with disabilities send Uber or if Uber drivers consistently underserve low-income communities and communities of color, a practice known as redlining.

“This is all about public safety,” Zafar said. “Our rules are to make sure this new industry is not discriminating against communities and public safety is not hindered.”

Uber did not reply to requests for comment.

A hearing to determine if Uber's affiliate company, Rasier, should have its operating license in California revoked was canceled due to Thursday's storm. The hearing with CPUC Administrative Law Judge Robert M. Mason III could be rescheduled for this week, Zafar said.

The day before last week's hearing was supposed to be held, Rasier filed an emergency motion to postpone the proceeding, which Mason rejected.

The judge wrote Rasier “would be given an opportunity to be heard and to explain why they should not be found in contempt, why fines and penalties should not be imposed, and why their licenses to operate should not be revoked or suspended for allegedly violating some of the reporting requirements.”

In the emergency motion, Rasier's attorneys said Uber did not receive “its due process rights.” But in a rebuttal of Rasier to the judge, the CPUC's Safety and Enforcement Division wrote that “Rasier has not acted in good faith.”

Barry Korengold, president of the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association, said Uber should only be afraid of handing over its data if its drivers consistently avoid neighborhoods like the Fillmore or Bayview.

Unlike with Uber and the like, people can file complaints if cab drivers refuse to pick up passengers because of their race, but it doesn't mean cabdrivers always do the right thing and go to “those neighborhoods,” Korengold said.

“But,” he added, “you can turn us in if we don't.”

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