Uber made public a redacted version of its legal filings to the California Public Utilities Commission about it's business practices as part of the CPUC's Phase II Proceedings. (Courtesy photo)

Uber ordered to publicize business practices

Uber has five days to reveal its secrets to the public, state regulators say.

The order comes in a ruling from Judge Robert Mason of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Uber, Lyft and other “transportation network companies.”

In his Sept. 17 ruling, Mason ordered Uber to refile legal answers about its business practices, which initially were heavily redacted for the public, to the CPUC within five days.

CPUC spokesman Christopher Chow said Uber is not allowed to appeal the decision.
In these documents, CPUC staff could see plainly what Uber’s attorneys wrote. But Uber provided an alternate version for the public, which featured long lines of black boxes over text.

Uber made public a redacted version of its legal filings to the California Public Utilities Commission about it's business practices as part of the CPUC's Phase II Proceedings. (Courtesy photo)
Uber made public a redacted version of its legal filings to the California Public Utilities Commission about it’s business practices as part of the CPUC’s Phase II Proceedings. (Courtesy photo)

These are “redactions” which Uber argued it needed to hide legal and technical explanations about its business practices.

Mason ruled against Uber’s ability to file a redacted document and ordered the tech company to make these hidden arguments open to public viewing.

Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said the company is “reviewing the [judge’s] decision” and that they “look forward to working with the CPUC to protect confidential information.”

The CPUC is now crafting a new round of regulations for TNCs like Uber, which it calls Phase II regulations. Judge Mason ordered Uber to answer certain questions about how its business is structured.

Some of the more than 30 questions Uber answered, many of which were hidden, dealt with:

– Whether Uber drivers see all app requests in their vicinity.

– Uber’s legal relationship to its subsidiary, Raiser.

– How a fare is calculated between Uber and its drivers.

– Whether Uber drivers have a time limit for accepting, or not accepting, a ride.

In legal filings to the CPUC, Uber argued redactions would protect trade secrets from competition. Judge Mason said Uber failed to make a compelling case.

“But an even more troubling aspect of Uber’s position is that, if accepted, it would impede the Commission’s ability to conduct its investigation into Uber’s operations in an open fashion,” Mason wrote in his ruling.

“I wish to caution Uber,” Mason wrote, “as well as any other party to this quasi-legislative proceeding, against the use of broad-brush-style confidentiality claims.”

Read a PDF of Judge Robert Mason’s ruling here, and Uber’s redacted filings here.
CPUCLyftPhase 2 regulationsTransitTransportation Network CompaniesUber

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