Lagana, Singleton, Wisniewski & DeCroce on TNCs: Fingerprint-Based Background Checks a Must for Public Safety

Assemblymen Joseph Lagana, Troy Singleton, Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee Chair John Wisniewski and Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, sponsors of legislation aimed at protecting customers of Uber and other transportation network companies (A-3695), issued the following statement Wednesday in response to Uber’s claim that the bill’s fingerprinting requirement would force the company out of New Jersey:

“Uber’s insistence on circumventing fingerprint-based background checks in New Jersey – a practice that is required for all drivers in New York City – is concerning. Passengers using the Uber app to hail rides in this state have a right to the same protections as those using the app to hail rides in New York,” said Lagana (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Rather than threatening to inconvenience New Jersey residents who have come to rely on Uber – whether they’re seeking a ride to work or on the job themselves – the company ought to take a more constructive approach and focus on raising its bar for public safety. If Uber ultimately chooses not to operate in New Jersey, however, our residents can look to the city of Austin and rest assured that other companies committed to keeping passengers safe will swiftly take its place.”

“If Uber’s background check system is indeed stronger than a methodology that independent research considers the gold standard, then there should be nothing to worry about. It seems, however, that Uber already has taken a defensive ‘my way or the highway’ stance, threatening to leave if the attorney general concludes that the comprehensive fingerprint-based background checks used in New York are the best way to keep passengers safe,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “There’s a clear inconsistency in Uber requiring fingerprinting in New York City while asserting that its standard background check system, which is devoid of fingerprinting, is ‘more comprehensive in the ability to check information.’ The company’s implicit suggestion that New Jersey residents are undeserving of the safety standards that protect passengers in New York rightfully gives us pause as lawmakers, and transparent threats to leave New Jersey do little to help Uber’s cause.”

“New Jersey uses fingerprint-based background checks to vet individuals who want to be taxi drivers, teachers, nurses and many other candidates for jobs in which the public’s well-being is at stake,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “Unlike background checks that simply require the applicant to input data, there’s no way to fake a fingerprint. Considering the demand for this service, keeping Uber in New Jersey would be ideal, but nothing is more important than keeping the residents of this state safe.”

“Passenger safety must be the top priority as New Jersey establishes standards for transportation network companies,” said DeCroce (R-Essex/Morris/Passaic). “Passengers in New Jersey deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their Uber driver has gone through a comprehensive background check that includes fingerprinting, which is required for drivers in New York. That the same company, providing the same service has a different set of rules on either side of the Hudson River simply is absurd.”