Uber and Lyft have been ordered by the city of San Francisco, California to provide four years' worth of driving records so that the city attorney's office can ensure the two companies aren't affecting the public in a negative manner. According to city attorney Dennis Herrera, the two ride-sharing companies have the potential to create "a public nuisance" and there are certain local regulations related to accessibility and safety that he would like to make sure they're following. The two firms have 15 days to turn over the requested records, or they will be subject to penalties handed down by local courts, to be decided at a later date.
Both companies are already submitting annual reports to the California Public Utilities Commission but have requested to keep these records confidential in order to prevent their competitors from accessing them. Herrera has now filed a request under the freedom of information act in order to get those records, and while this court order will not technically compel the California Public Utilities Commission to release the data if Uber and Lyft refuse to do so themselves, it is quite likely to affect their decision as to whether to do so. According to Herrera, the companies' algorithms seem to prioritize some parts of the city over others, leading to underserved territories. Uber, for its part, said that it is willing to work alongside city authorities to create a "comprehensive solution" to any troubles that its activities may cause. Lyft, on the other hand, has not issued any official statement on the matter as of this writing.
This case is not Uber's only trouble with San Francisco city officials; the company came under fire recently for a decision to stop releasing names and addresses of their drivers for privacy reasons, where before it did so while protesting. Lyft is currently locked in no such legal battles but Uber's troubles come on top of an ongoing legal battle with Waymo, which has thus far culminated in the firing of Anthony Levandowski, a central figure in the case. This is in sharp contrast to rival Lyft that recently started working with Waymo on self-driving cars.