Uber is facing a federal class action lawsuit after mass-texting its Austin users ahead of the Proposition 1 vote over ride-hailing regulations.
The lawsuit, filed by Austin activist Melissa Cubria, alleges Uber violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act when it robo-texted Austinites this week, urging them to support Proposition 1 at the ballot box. The suit argues that Uber's texts violated users' privacy and violated the law, which protects consumers against unwanted voice or text contact from political campaigns "unless in an emergency or with consent of the recipient of the call," according to the suit.
Lawyers filing on behalf of Cubria argue Uber used an automated system to send messages of a political nature.
"[It] is absurd to imagine that Uber paid individual, living persons to manually type and then manually send thousands (and perhaps tens of thousands) of individual text messages in support of a political campaign," the suit says.
The company's terms of service say that users "may send you informational text (SMS) messages as part of the normal business operation of your use of the Services."
In a written statement, Uber representative Jaime Moore dismissed both the timing and the merit of the lawsuit.
"We have taken great precaution to comply with applicable laws and believe the claims in this lawsuit are meritless. The announcement of this action at an anti-Prop 1 press conference also reveals how it was designed to unduly influence the election."
You can read the full filing below:
This post has been updated to reflect Uber's response to the lawsuit.