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Mass. Lawmakers Consider New Rideshare Regulations

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Rideshare safety was front and center at the Massachsuetts State House Friday as lawmakers consider a crackdown on the services.

The legislation that was introduced by Gov. Charlie Baker includes more protections for a rider's personal information, stiffer penalties for what's known as "account renting" and more trip data collection.

Those in favor of the bill said the data could help them make transportation planning decisions to ease congestion, such as the rideshare only spots in Boston's Fenway and Seaport neighborhoods.

"Once we get this data, we'll know both time of day, origination point and ending point of the trip," said Matt Nelson, chair of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.

Lyft is already raising concern about the proposed regulations, saying the data collection could put the privacy of its rider community at risk.

"We share the governor's commitment to safety and reducing congestion," Lyft spokesman Campbell Matthews said in a statement. "However, we have significant concerns over the extent of information about our riders and drivers that this bill would require us to share with the Department of Public Utilities."

Supporters said at the core of the bill is public safety. The proposed regulations would increase the penalties for anyone not keeping up with inspections and background checks. In addition, any driver caught renting out their account to someone who is not them would face up to two and a half years behind bars.

"It's a signal to the public, a signal to law enforcement and a signal to the courts that this is a really dangerous practice," said Katie Lubitz of the Department of Public Utilities TNC division.

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