Uber Forced to Provide Top-Secret Data to Pennsylvania Regulators

A $19 million fine against the company has been proposed.

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As the Philadelphia Parking Authority carries on its war against massively popular smart phone-based car service Uber — a service that continues to operate in Philadelphia despite its illegality — the company has also been clashing with state regulators, who this week forced Uber to turn over proprietary data and also proposed a fine of $19 million.

The showdown occurred on Wednesday in Pittsburgh at hearings held by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission, which regulates Uber everywhere in Pennsylvania except for Philadelphia, which is the PPA’s domain. Although the hearings are taking place more than 300 miles from Philadelphia, the results could impact the company statewide.

Pennsylvania gave Uber an experimental two-year license to operate in the state back in January. But previously, authorities had issued a cease-and-desist order, demanding that Uber discontinue its operations.

The PUC says that Uber continued to operate while under that order, and now it has forced Uber to provide the state with the company’s proprietary trip data in order to determine how many times the order was violated. Uber only provided the data once the court agreed that it would be sealed.

“In my two-plus decades in practice, I have never seen this level of blatant defiance,” said PUC prosecutor Michael Swindler at the hearing, as reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “The PUC needs to send Uber a $19 million message,” he added, calling for civil fines.

A spokesperson for Uber has indicated that the company believes that a penalty is unnecessary and that Uber is pursuing a settlement with the PUC.

The San Francisco-based company’s service is available in some 200 cities in more than 50 countries, but it has faced regulatory battles in many of them. In some cases, as in Philadelphia, Uber has continued to operate even after it has been banned or deemed illegal. So, if the state decides to revoke Uber’s experimental license to operate in Pennsylvania — as one judge at the hearing said is possible — we can only imagine that Uber isn’t going to go anywhere.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.