Surge pricing? How about surge fines: Pennsylvania orders Uber to cough up $11.4m

Super Cali goes ballistic, wait, sorry, wrong state


The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has upheld an $11,364,736 fine, the largest in its history, against Uber for running an unlicensed taxi operation and obstructing attempts to investigate the firm.

The PUC issued the fine in May after finding that Uber had provided 122,998 trips to paying customers without receiving authorization from the state* authorities, including nearly 42,000 rides after the firm had been sent an official cease and desist letter.

"We do not take lightly the fact that the civil penalty imposed in this case is the largest in this Commission's history," the chairman and vice chairman of the PUC said in a joint statement. "However, the reason the penalty is so large is because we were faced with an unprecedented number of violations committed by Uber."

Judging from the size of the fine, the PUC is really butthurt about Uber. In contrast, Lyft got a fine of just $250,000 for operating its ride business in the state, and the largest previous fine from the PUC was $1.8m levied against HIKO Energy after they jacked up their prices to cash in on the 2014 polar vortex cold snap.

Tom Wolf, the governor of Pennsylvania, intervened personally in the debate, saying that the fine was "unprecedented." He urged the PUC to rethink, particularly as Uber has its Advanced Technology Center developing self-driving cars in the state.

"We are shocked that the PUC would compound its past mistakes and send the troubling message that Pennsylvania is unwelcoming to technology and innovation," Uber told The Reg in a statement.

"For technical violations in bringing Uber to Pennsylvanians, the PUC has imposed an absurd and record-breaking fine which demonstrates why the Commonwealth needs permanent, statewide ridesharing legislation as soon as possible."

Uber said it would appeal the ruling at the Commonwealth Court. But even if it is forced to pay up, an $11.4m fine is a drop in the ocean for a firm that's losing $7m a day. ®

Bootnote

Yes, we know that technically Pennsylvania is a commonwealth, not a state, but there's practically no difference between the two.

Pennsylvania, along with Massachusetts, Virginia, and Kentucky, all became commonwealths to show their independence from their hated British overlords. You'd think they'd have got over it by now, but apparently not.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading
  • Utility biz Delta-Montrose Electric Association loses billing capability and two decades of records after cyber attack

    All together now - R, A, N, S, O...

    A US utility company based in Colorado was hit by a ransomware attack in November that wiped out two decades' worth of records and knocked out billing systems that won't be restored until next week at the earliest.

    The attack was detailed by the Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) in a post on its website explaining that current customers won't be penalised for being unable to pay their bills because of the incident.

    "We are a victim of a malicious cyber security attack. In the middle of an investigation, that is as far as I’m willing to go," DMEA chief exec Alyssa Clemsen Roberts told a public board meeting, as reported by a local paper.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021