Washington state sues Uber over data breach cover-up

By Gene Johnson

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — Washington state sued the ride-hailing company Uber on Tuesday, saying it broke state law when it failed to notify more than 10,000 drivers that their personal information was accessed as part of a major data breach.

Last week, Uber acknowledged that more than a year ago, it paid hackers a $100,000 ransom to destroy personal data they stole concerning more than 57 million of the ride-hailing service’s customers and drivers.

Several states, including Missouri, Massachusetts and New York, have opened investigations, and the city of Chicago sued Uber on Monday for failing to notify affected residents.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said that because the drivers’ information that was accessed included names and license numbers, state law required Uber to notify them and his office within 45 days. Nearly 11,000 drivers in the state were affected.

“Washington law is clear: When a data breach puts people at risk, businesses must inform them,” Ferguson said in a news release. “Uber’s conduct has been truly stunning. There is no excuse for keeping this information from consumers.”

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties in the millions of dollars. Violations carry fines of up to $2,000 apiece, and Ferguson said each day Uber failed to notify each customer constitutes a violation.

It also notes that Uber has run into trouble before for failing to notify users: New York fined the company $20,000 last year over a 2014 data breach.

Ferguson said that based on Uber’s characterization of the information hackers stole about Washington passengers, he does not believe Uber had a legal obligation to notify them.

In a statement Tuesday, Uber said it takes the matter seriously and is cooperating with regulators.

“We are committed to changing the way we do business, putting integrity at the core of every decision we make, and working hard to re-gain the trust of consumers,” the statement said.

Ferguson announced the state’s lawsuit hours after developments in a California court case revealed that federal prosecutors are investigating allegations that Uber deployed an espionage team to plunder trade secrets from its rivals.

That revelation prompted a delay in a high-profile trial over whether Uber stole self-driving car technology from Waymo, a Google spinoff.

More in News

Jefferson PUD water sufficient for Port Hadlock sewer project

Agency presented with update on first phase

Volunteers, from left, John Albiso, Tien Vo and Bill Chastain cut boards that will become part of the Generation II Dream Playground during the first day of a six-day community build on Tuesday at Erickson Playfield in Port Angeles. The playground will replace an antiquated version that was built by volunteers in 2002 and torn down earlier this year. Organizers are still seeking volunteers to help with construction, the loan of woodworking tools and monetary donations. More information on the build is at www.padreamplayground.org. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Dream Playground

Volunteers, from left, John Albiso, Tien Vo and Bill Chastain cut boards… Continue reading

Jefferson County approves updated social media policy

The Board of Jefferson County commissioners approved an updated… Continue reading

After 12 days touring Puget Sound, Andy Jacobs paddles his trimaran into the Port Townsend Boat Haven on Saturday night. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
WA360 race wraps up with 38 team finishers

Pullman man propels trimaran to Maritime Center

Clallam County approves move to mediator

Parties aim to work on communication

Peninsula health care system starting to see strain

COVID-19, trauma patients impacting hospitals

Most Read