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Uber sues Houston

It’s all about the secrecy.

Uber

Uber is once again suing to keep its secrets.

The ride-hailing service filed suit in Houston last week to block the release of public records that would reveal how many drivers it has licensed in the city, who they are and how the company operates in Texas, according to court documents obtained by The Huffington Post.

Reporters from Al Jazeera America and the Houston Chronicle requested the documents earlier this year as Uber began lobbying for a bill that would allow it to work throughout the state, expanding its reach to 27 million potential customers. The records could shed light on how Uber, which has faced fierce opposition in many new markets, brokers deals in different cities and states to skirt regulations that apply to taxi and limo drivers. They would also show how many of the Uber drivers in Houston were licensed by the city.

Uber argued against the release of those records, insisting that the information constituted trade secrets and would give an edge to smaller rivals such as Lyft and Sidecar.

“Uber is a private company and as such, information about driver partners is considered confidential and proprietary,” Uber spokeswoman Debbee Hancock told HuffPost in an email.

On April 1, the state attorney general ruled against Uber in favor of making the documents public. Weeks later, the Travis County District Court granted Uber a temporary order to bar Houston officials from releasing the records as the company prepared to sue the city to keep the information secret.

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A clause in the Texas Public Information Act allows companies to review requests related to them before documents are released. In theory, this is to ensure that state officials don’t publicize trade secrets that could damage a firm. For the infamously litigious Uber, the law offers an opportunity to try and quash attempts to peer inside the $40 billion company.

There are other lawsuits involving Uber and Lyft in Texas, but they are the defendants in those cases. The federal lawsuit filed by cab companies has been cleared to continue and is the only one whose recent status I know. There was a hearing for this lawsuit yesterday, and the judge issued an injunction to allow the information to remain confidential pending the outcome of the trial, which is scheduled to begin October 19. We’ll see how it goes. Link via Swamplot.

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