NBC Boston – Proposed Bill Would Require Fingerprinting For Rideshare Drivers

Article written by Abbey Niezgoda and provided by NBC 10 Boston

A state lawmaker is hoping to make Uber and Lyft rides safer with the touch of a finger. The new push would take the mandatory background checks for drivers a step farther.

State Rep. Michael Moran, a Brighton Democrat, has filed a bill that would require rideshare drivers to submit to fingerprinting. He said it would close a loophole and cut down on concerns like identity theft.

“Somebody changes their name, somebody moves around, you may miss them,” Moran said. “But a fingerprint is an indelible mark that you can’t copy and it will ensure that you are who you say you are when you drive for Uber or Lyft.”

The state passed mandatory background checks for rideshare drivers back in 2016, but fingerprinting was rejected. Moran believes the idea is worth revisiting in light of recent incidents, including an Uber driver who was charged with raping a passenger in Boston over the weekend.

“They shouldn’t be having us tell them to do it, they should want to do this,” Moran said.

Scott Solombrino, a spokesman for Ride Safe Massachusetts and livery service owner, said it is time rideshare drivers be held to the same standard as taxi drivers who have long been required to submit fingerprints. He is also pushing for a bill that would require them to start random drug testing.

“People don’t really know if people are on drugs or if they’re not on drugs, yet chauffeured companies have to do drug testing to maintain their corporate accounts,” Solombrino said. “It’s time to level the playing field and make passengers safer.”

Both Uber and Lyft released similar statements highlighting the robust background check systems the companies said they already have in place.

A statement from Uber said in part, “Our third-party provider screens driving and criminal records through local, state, and national databases to check for any disqualifying offenses.”

Lyft said its drivers undergo a rigorous two-tiered background check process that includes a state-run check before driving on the platform. In a statement, a spokesperson for Lyft said, “As always, we’re open to discussions with policymakers on issues that impact our industry.”

The fingerprinting bill has been filed, but a hearing date has not yet been set.