Uber, SF clash in state talks over fingerprint criminal checks

(S.F. Examiner file photo)

San Francisco officials and ride-hail company Uber clashed in state legal filings over the possibility of fingerprinted criminal background checks of Uber and Lyft drivers.

The filings were only made public over the last week, but were filed over the last few months at the California Public Utilities Commission as the agency ponders new regulations for ride-hail drivers in the near future.

If enacted, the fingerprint criminal checks for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hail drivers would resemble the checks of taxi drivers. Right now, ride-hail drivers are only checked by third parties through publicly available court records, using names and social security numbers.

Attorneys for Uber’s subsidiary, Raiser, argued fingerprinting drivers unfairly impacts communities of color, as the Department of Justice database, they allege, tends to “exaggerate” the significance of arrests that do not lead to a conviction.

“The higher arrest rates for African Americans and other minority citizens, results in a discriminatory impact,” Uber’s attorneys wrote. “It is an unfortunate truth that members of minority communities in the United States have been arrested at disproportionate rates.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and San Francisco International Airport, in their legal filings to the CPUC, argued Uber’s criminal checks allow dangerous drivers behind the wheel.

The San Francisco agencies wrote, “The commercial background investigation firm that Rasier-CA (“Uber”) uses failed to detect criminal histories of drivers who had disqualifying criminal histories.”

The criminal background check Uber used, San Francisco officials argued, was substandard and allowed approved drivers with histories of murder, sex offenses, kidnapping, assault, robbery, burglary, fraud, identity theft, reckless driving, and driving under the influence.

Uber declined to make public answers to certain questions the CPUC asked them, like how many people applied to be a driver in California in 2014, 2015 and 2016, for instance.

Uber also said it doesn’t check the ethnicity of its drivers, and does not know how many of its drivers who were rejected for criminal purposes were of particular ethnicities.

No definite date has been set for the criminal background check regulations to be proposed.

Just Posted

Thirty years after Loma Prieta, is San Francisco ready for the next ‘big one?’

Bay Area residents breathed a sigh of relief this week after a… Continue reading

With Loftus set to take office, poll shows voters disapprove of last-minute DA appointment

Mayor London Breed made an unpopular decision when she named candidate Suzy… Continue reading

‘My brother in Baltimore’: Pelosi reacts to death of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings

U.S. House Speaker and Baltimore native Nancy Pelosi mourned the death of… Continue reading

Proposals for sculpture to honor Maya Angelou meet with rejection

The search for an artist to create a monument to poet and… Continue reading

Market Street is only the beginning of drive to clear city streets of cars

Car-free streets won’t stop at Market. At least, that’s the intent of… Continue reading

Most Read