Uber Resists Driver Fingerprinting in NJ, Says It Will Hurt Minorities

HACKENSACK, N.J. (The Record/TNS) -

Fingerprinting driver applicants in New Jersey through a state police background check would make it more difficult for Uber Technologies Inc. to recruit drivers and would be unfair to minority applicants, a company official said.

Fingerprint checks show if a person was arrested, but the databases often do not indicate whether there was a conviction, and false arrests are not uncommon, especially in minority neighborhoods, Amanda DeSantis, Uber’s regional trust and safety chief, told The Record in a phone interview. “We are looking for actual convictions,” she said.

State licensing requirements that include comparing an applicant’s fingerprints against those in criminal databases are routinely applied to nurses, teachers, taxi and limousine drivers, and mortgage brokers, among others. But Uber, the world’s largest ride-hailing business, has resisted such a requirement.

“We think our screening stacks up quite well against the alternative, which is discriminatory against minority communities,” DeSantis said. “In communities of color, people are arrested at a higher rate,” she said.

The company, which for the past two years has been operating largely without regulation in New Jersey, has threatened to leave the state over proposed insurance standards and background check requirements for drivers that include fingerprinting. A bill that includes a fingerprinting requirement was reintroduced this year.

Fingerprinting has been an issue for Uber elsewhere, most recently in Atlanta and Los Angeles, where officials have been pushing for background checks that include fingerprinting.