California orders Uber to pay $7.3 million fine, or else

The ride-hailing company comes under scrutiny of regulators for allegedly failing to provide the state with mandatory data on the number of rides it gives.

Dara Kerr
Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
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The California Public Utilities Commission wants to know how many rides Uber drivers give in each ZIP code where the company operates. Uber

California is ordering Uber to cough up $7.3 million or risk losing its operating license.

State Judge Robert M. Mason III has fined the ride-hailing company that sum of money for failing to comply with mandatory reporting requirements of the California Public Utilities Commission. The commission, which regulates ride-hailing companies in the state, wanted Uber to provide details on the number of ride requests it receives, along with other information.

Under state law, Uber has 30 days to pay the fine or it will lose its license. The ride-hailing company said it's appealing the decision.

"Uber has already provided substantial amounts of data to the California Public Utilities Commission, information we have provided elsewhere with no complaints," an Uber spokesperson said. "Going further risks compromising the privacy of individual riders as well as driver-partners. These CPUC requests are also beyond the remit of the commission and will not improve public safety."

Since Uber launched in California in 2009 with its service that lets passengers connect with drivers via a smartphone app, it's had an up-and-down relationship with the CPUC. The commission has repeatedly threatened to revoke the company's operating license for allegedly failing to comply with the rules, and then later green-lighted its service. As Uber and other ride-hailing companies, like Lyft, Gett and Sidecar, continue to grow and expand worldwide, lawmakers grapple with how to best regulate the services.

Uber is now the world's largest ride-hailing company, operating in more than 250 cities in 57 countries. It's also the second-highest-valued venture-backed company in the world with a valuation of $41.2 billion.

The CPUC asked Uber, Lyft and Sidecar for their ride information in September 2013. The commission wanted data on the number of rides given within each ZIP code, the cost of trips, the cause of accidents when the companies' drivers were involved, the percentage of ride requests fulfilled, and much more.

The three companies had until September 2014 to turn in the data. Both Lyft and Sidecar made the deadline, according to the commission. While Uber did hand over a report to the CPUC, not all of the required data was included, the commission said.

The CPUC said its goal in gathering this information was to ensure Uber, Lyft and Sidecar were providing service in a "non-discriminatory manner" with "equal access to all" and in a way that "promotes public safety."