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Tougher Background checks on ride-hail drivers

“Currently ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft do a background check on their drivers using a seven year limit. A new law has been passed where these companies will soon know much more about their drivers' past deeds since they will be able to conduct background checks that cover the entire life of a potential driver. This also allows for serious fines to be imposed, should employers allow drivers convicted of certain crimes to use their platforms.

The law comes into effect just as several incidents of Uber drivers kidnapping passengers have made the news. Because of this new ruling there is sure to be an immediate increase in the number of in-depth background checks. Uber officials originally argued that individuals with convictions for violent crimes did previously get background checks but their convictions occurred more than seven years ago. The company was limited by law to keep the background check to the seven year look-back time period. This led to them hiring people who had serious offenses but because they occurred prior to the 7 year limit, the company was unaware of them. This new bill that was passed will now allow them to look back for a lifetime.

Uber will no longer have that excuse. In order to ensure that Uber and Lyft will comply and actually run the extended background checks, the law will assess fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for every driver on a public sex offender database or who has been convicted of a violent crime. This should result in several individuals who are currently behind the wheel to get booted off their respective ride-hail platform in 2017.

The ACLU, meanwhile, argues that the stricter rules will have a negative net impact on society. "[Old] convictions can appear on these records, for which people have long served their time and been rehabilitated," ACLU spokeswoman Maya Ingram argued to the State Assembly. "It is important that we continue to provide re-entry opportunities for people following a conviction.”

Uber, for its part, is probably pleased at its newfound ability to dig up information on its contractors. After all, anything that helps to make the time before human drivers are replaced by self-driving cars go without violent incident can only help business.

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