Uber threatens to leave Maryland over fingerprint law

Maryland holds hearings over ridesharing security
Posted at 6:54 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 18:54:11-05
Being a taxicab driver just isn't what it used to be because of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.
Cabbies here in Maryland have lost more than 10 million fares since the transportation network companies or TNCs arrived on the scene.
"These guys are traveling the same distance we are for half the price, plus 20%,” said David Gilliam, “That's modern day slavery."
If the Uber and Lyft drivers are being taken advantage of, it’s news to them.
"It's a great platform for me, because I'm retired,” said Herb Gray, who started driving for Uber in February. “I can work when I want.  I can drive when I want."
Uber, though, is now threatening to pull out of the state, if the Maryland Public Service Commission decides it must conduct fingerprint checks on its drivers, like taxi drivers must go through.
Uber's general manager here in Maryland, Tom Hayes, explains why.
"The way fingerprints works is that it looks at arrest records and it doesn't have the final disposition of what has happened in the legal process so someone's case could have been thrown out,” said Hayes. “They could have been exonerated and they would still get flagged."
Hayes claims since minorities are arrested at disproportionate rates the fingerprinting would discriminate against them.
The vice president of the company that runs the Checker and Yellow cabs in Baltimore, Dwight Kines, disagrees.
"I still think that the public needs to be protected when they're climbing into whatever form of transportation they're using whether it’s a TNC or taxi cab or a for-hire sedan company."
But Uber has an extensive backgrounding process in place based on an applicant's social security number that covers seven levels, including sex offender and motor vehicle checks.
"We're not criminals.  We don't need fingerprinting," said Uber driver Ramona Roberts.
If nothing else, the Maryland Public Service Commission will be thorough in its examination of these issues.  
In addition to today's hearings, it will also meet on Friday and again on Monday and Tuesday if necessary. 

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