Uber wants BC Supreme Court to block release of records detailing confidential dealings with ICBC

BIV's lawsuit of the week

Uber headquarters in San Francisco | Shutterstock

Uber Technologies Inc. is going to court to block the release of correspondence the company had with the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia (ICBC) under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Uber Canada Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and Uber B.V. filed a petition in BC Supreme Court on April 29, naming the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia and Vancouver resident Rajdeep Kandola as respondents.

Uber claims correspondence ordered released by the commissioner is exempt from disclosure for potential economic harm done to a public body. Kandola sought “records relating to the change of the insurance regime with regard to Uber, Lyft and taxis.”

The company claims it engaged with ICBC after the B.C. government tasked the Crown corporation with holding consultations about potential insurance regulatory changes to include ride sharing or “transportation network companies.”

“The discussions between ICBC and Uber were also highly confidential. The confidential information shared between ICBC and Uber was subject to a non-disclosure agreement,” the petition states. “Uber supplied ICBC with what it considered to be commercially acceptable terms and conditions for a ridesharing insurance product for both basic and optional coverages, on the mutual understanding that Uber would likely, in the future, purchase such product from ICBC under those terms and conditions.”

Specifically, Uber objects to the release of a March 2017 letter containing requested terms for optional coverage and ICBC’s response, which included a dollar amount modelled on data and confidential information supplied by the company.

In ordering the release of the letter, Uber claims the privacy commissioner failed to acknowledge the potential harms both to ICBC and to the company’s competitive position by releasing senstive information that “would permit a competitor to draw an inference as to the information supplied by Uber.”

“The Commissioner ignored the sworn evidence from Uber on this point, as well as basic realities about how negotiations are conducted in the commercial sphere,” the petition states. “The assertion that dislcosing ICBC’s confidential proposed pricing terms would not hurt ICBC in a competitive marketplace for optional coverages, in the absence of a consummated contract, is unreasonable and without foundation.”

Uber seeks an order to quash the privacy commissioner’s decision compelling the disclosure of the records. The petition’s factual basis has not been tested in court and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and Kandola had not responded to the companies’ claims by press time.