Lawsuit seeks to revoke Austin's Uber fingerprint rule
21 June 2016 13:14 GMT

A council member in Austin, Texas who supports the ride-sharing firm Uber’s efforts to forego fingerprint checks for drivers in the city, has filed a new lawsuit challenging legislation on the matter.

Donald Zimmerman has filed a suit that seeks to overturn an earlier vote in May that saw the public reject an earlier attempt to roll bank fingerprint requirements.

That month, the Austin public voted against any changes to a transportation ordinance passed by the City Council in December requiring the fingerprint checks.

However, Zimmerman’s suit argue that the language used in this poll was confusing, unlawful and did not provide enough information about fingerprint criminal background checks for drivers.

Uber and Lyft had campaigned against the requirement, which they said was an unnecessary and costly barrier to entry for new drivers. They said their own background checks are comprehensive and ensure safety.

Both firms have said the fingerprint requirements are too much of a burden on both drivers (who'd have a harder time getting started) and passengers (who'd have to be picky about where they hail rides). 

On 14 June, The International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) advised ridesharing firms to implement fingerprint-based background checks, saying that the process is much more secure than simple biographical checks.

"There are significant risks in relying solely on a biographic background check," says Tovah LaDier, IBIA's Managing Director, explaining that, "Biographic searches are vulnerable to data entry errors and attempts to use false or misleading biographic information to thwart detection." "Uber has created a business revolution based upon the use of technology," said Tovah LaDier, who notes, "It is ironic Uber would prefer an antiquated and vulnerable process by relying solely on name-based background checks of its applicants." 

The IBIA writes that an notable exception is New York City, where fingerprint-based background checks are required and Uber has declared its intention to remain for the long term. Elsewhere, both Uber and Lyft have fought strongly against the efforts to require fingerprint-based criminal background checks, claiming that they are unnecessary, onerous, ineffective, and intrusive.

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