N.J. may require Uber, Lyft drivers to be fingerprinted

FILE - This Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 file photo taken in Newark, N.J., shows smart phones displaying Uber car availability in New York. The ride-hailing app expects this New Year’s Eve to be its busiest night ever. Due to such high demand, and because it can, Uber is bringing back its surge pricing, a boon to drivers and a bane to passengers. Fares can increase by as much as sevenfold during the busiest time, which Uber says will be between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

FILE - This Friday, Nov. 21, 2014 file photo taken in Newark, N.J., shows smart phones displaying Uber car availability in New York. The ride-hailing app expects this New Year’s Eve to be its busiest night ever. Due to such high demand, and because it can, Uber is bringing back its surge pricing, a boon to drivers and a bane to passengers. Fares can increase by as much as sevenfold during the busiest time, which Uber says will be between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

A bill to regulate ride-hailing services is moving forward in the New Jersey Assembly despite the companies’ objections to fingerprinting their drivers as a security measure.

Ana Mahoney, Uber New Jersey’s general manager, said the company’s process of ensuring the safety of riders is already adequate. Fingerprint data that’s uploaded to national databases is incomplete, she said.

“Which means that our background-check process would be dependent on incomplete information and also information that creates unfair barriers to drivers,” she said.

Uber and Lyft representatives say their drivers are fingerprinted in New York City where they’re classified as limo drivers, but there is no need for that in New Jersey where they are classified as ride-booking drivers.

That explanation didn’t satisfy many lawmakers, including Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver.

“This is an issue of passenger safety, public safety,” said Oliver, D-Essex. “You cannot continue to give us a response that it is not your business model.”

Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, also criticized the companies’ arguments.

“I find it offensive and hypocritical that you would come in here and say we’re not interested in fingerprinting or you would leave the state when you do it right across the river in New York.” he said.

Despite the companies’ objections, Assembly Transportation Committee chairman John Wisniewski believes a fingerprint requirement for their drivers will be included in the legislation that is enacted.

“I think the scare tactic that is used by these companies is that we will leave your state, we will leave your community,” said Wisniewski, D-Middlesex. “The reality is they make a lot of money. They’ll find a way to operate within what are incredibly reasonable guidelines.”

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