As cities and states continue to battle Uber and Lyft over regulations, Massachusetts just gave us a peek at what it would look like if every single one of them got serious about it.
Late last year, Massachusetts enacted stricter rules for drivers working for ride-hailing apps. Those rules meant that Massachusetts would run its own background checks instead of leaving the screening process to Uber and Lyft.
The results of those background checks are in, and 8,000 drivers were barred from driving in Massachusetts as a result.
About 70,000 drivers applied for background checks, so more than 11 percent got rejected. A big chunk of those drivers were rejected for having a license suspended previously, but there were some more serious concerns, too.
At least 1,500 drivers had a past violent crime charge. Fifty-one drivers had histories as sex offenders. Others just hadn’t had their licenses long enough to meet the state’s requirements.
Breaking: Mass has rejected 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers (11 percent!) after running its own background checks. Includes 51 sex offenders pic.twitter.com/0AfzMbyzTr
— Jordan Graham (@jordanmgraham) 5 апреля 2017 г.
The background checks spanned ride-hailing drivers’ entire lifetimes instead of just the past seven years, like Uber and Lyft’s usual background checks. (A Lyft spokesperson in a statement to CNN noted that companies can only check the past seven years. The state of Massachusetts is allowed to go further back.)
“Under Massachusetts law, Lyft’s commercial background check provider, like all consumer reporting agencies, is legally prevented from looking back further than seven years into driver applicants’ histories. The state does not face the same limitation, which likely explains why a small percentage of our drivers failed the state’s background check while passing ours,” Lyft said in its statement.
Uber took a more combative approach, criticizing Massachusetts’ law.
“The new screening includes an unfair and unjust indefinite lookback period that has caused thousands of people in Massachusetts to lose access to economic opportunities,” Uber told CNN. “We have a chance to repair the current system in the rules process so that people who deserve to work are not denied the opportunity.”
Neither ride-hailing company immediately respond to requests for comment from Mashable.
Massachusetts isn’t the first state — or city — to get serious about regulating ride-hailing. Austin, Texas, lost Uber and Lyft entirely after the city enacted stricter rules for driver background checks. Local ride-hailing options that were more willing to comply with regulations quickly sprung up to replace the two ride-hailing giants.
Uber has been busy dealing with problems besides government regulation, but Massachusetts’ effort gave the company a preview of what could be to come. The results probably gave other states ideas about how to regulate ride-hailing, too.