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Uber and Lyft may not have to fingerprint drivers in California

A new proposal requires background checks from accredited vendors once a year.
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Rob LeFebvre
Rob LeFebvre|@roblef|October 6, 2017 9:04 PM

Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have had some issues with driver background checks over the years. More than 8,000 drivers from both companies failed checks in Massachusetts this year, while Uber was reported to have missed criminal records as far back as 2015. Uber was sued in California over misleading statements around rider safety last year, and both companies promised to leave Austin if fingerprint checks were required. This week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the ride-hailing services would avoid fingerprint checks in California. Instead, the California Public Utilities Commission proposed that Uber and Lyft would instead have to ensure that background checks are done by an accredited vendor on an annual basis.

The Utilities Commission said that it was not requiring biometric screening "after much consideration and public comment ... finding that doing so would not add a greater level of safety," according to the San Fransisco Chronicle. By contrast, the site reports, taxi drivers in the state must be fingerprinted. Lyft already performs annual checks, while Uber will need to step up to start that process with its drivers.

"We appreciate the CPUC's thoughtful deliberation on this issue and the supportive comments from a wide range of experts who helped to inform the decision," Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Harrison told the Chronicle. "Today's proposal is a recognition of Lyft's strong background check process, which prioritizes public safety without limiting innovation or economic opportunity."

"We appreciate the Commission's thoughtful review of this important issue. We are encouraged by their proposed decision which promotes both public safety and economic opportunity," said Uber in a statement reported by the Chronicle. The proposal goes up for a final vote on November 9th.

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Uber and Lyft may not have to fingerprint drivers in California