Uber has relented against New York’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) and handed over its data. As a result, it can now open the five Uber dispatch bases that the TLC shut down when Uber refused to comply.
New York City passengers won’t see much of a difference in service. The bases are locations for administrative work, so them being shut down inconvenienced drivers who needed to go for licensing tests and training, not riders. Furthermore, the TLC had decided to block Uber’s request to open a base in Brooklyn until it handed over trip information.
The ride-hailing company publicly announced its decision to offer more data to cities last month, starting with Boston. At the time, it said it would be anonymizing all the data and offering it in aggregate to cities so they can make policy decisions like planning public transit routes.
But the TLC required Uber to include vehicle license plate numbers if it wanted its bases reinstated. That means Uber will be giving that specific, non anonymized driver information at least to the New York City government. The company told the New York Business Journal it’s doing so “under protest.”
Uber initially cited trade secrets for not wanting to give up its data. It may not have wanted local governments to being able to send their taxis to popular Uber areas at peak times, for example. But as evidenced by the blog post on giving data to Boston and other cities, the company had a change of heart, realizing that it could offer data to cities as an olive branch and potentially ease Uber’s local regulatory conflicts as a result.