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Ride-share programs oppose fingerprint background checks in Austin


Ride sharing companies Uber and Lyft are fighting it out with Austin city council over fingerprint background checks.

Last week, the city of Austin approved the creation of a “public-private partnership” called Thumbs up!, an opt-in program for ride-share drivers who want to pass a fingerprint background check to verify to potential clients that they have a clean history, according to a report by Re/code.

With the new program, drivers and riders can have a fingerprint background check to verify that there isn’t anything such as a sexual assault conviction in their history. It is a non-mandatory program, paid for by the city. Drivers who do opt into the program will be allowed to pick up fares at the airport and during major events and festivals where ride-sharing services aren’t allowed.

“The reason we’re doing this is because a number of people in the city of Austin have said they’d be safer if they had a driver who had undergone that level background check,” Austin mayor Steve Adler said in an interview with Re/code. “Without regard to whether it’s safer or not, the city council is going to demonstrate that people have that option.”

According to the report, Lyft and Uber both oppose the new program, calling it “duplicative” and intrusive.

In December, Austin City Council passed an ordinance that ride sharing companies implement comprehensive fingerprint background checks but both companies said that their business models don’t allow for the time required for such background checks and have threatened to leave the city should the law come into effect.

Despite publicly opposing fingerprinting background checks for its drivers, Uber has been looking into implementing fingerprint checks with Live Scan, the very technology it criticized for being rampant with flaws.

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