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Sen. Franken Releases Responses From Uber, Lyft on Discrimination against Customers

Senator Franken Calls Response to His Questions Detailed; Will Continue Pressing for Changes to Protect Against Discriminatory Conduct

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A month after pressing popular ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft to explain a recent study documenting driver discrimination against minority customers, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) released the companies' responses today. You can read a copy of the response letter from Uber here and from Lyft here.

Sen. Franken called the responses from both Uber and Lyft detailed, and said that going forward, he plans to continue working with the companies to ensure against bias and discrimination.

"As consumers in Minnesota and across our country come to rely more heavily on services provided online or through apps connected to the gig economy, it's vital that companies take steps to ensure that new technologies do not give cover to discrimination or bias," said Sen. Franken. "I appreciate the steps that both Uber and Lyft have taken to address my concerns regarding
discrimination against consumers, including meeting with the authors of a recent study, communicating with their drivers about the companies' nondiscrimination policies, and monitoring available metrics about ride cancellations. But I remain concerned that certain elements of an app's platform design-like allowing drivers to see a rider's name or photo before accepting a ride request-do not sufficiently guard against discriminatory conduct. I have expressed these concerns to the companies, and I look forward to working with them to address these challenges."

 According to a recent study, African Americans who use these ride-hailing smartphone apps face longer wait times to get accepted by drivers, and riders with African-American-sounding names are more than twice as likely to have their rides canceled. Beyond that, some women passengers reported being taken on longer rides than men. In response, Sen. Franken reached out for clarification about how both companies plan to better guard against the kind of rider discrimination detailed in the study. You can read his letter to Uber and Lyft  here.

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