The Strategist

Uber trips over yet another legal hindrance in Europe

05/11/2017 - 15:17

The EU can change rules of regulation for online taxi service Uber, reports Reuters.

Elekes Andor
Elekes Andor
Uber provides transport services and must have an appropriate license, the statement of the European Court says.

"The electronic platform Uber, being innovative, at the same time falls into the sphere of transport. Thus, it may be necessary for Uber to obtain the necessary licenses and permits in accordance with national legislation", says the statement.

Although this opinion is not binding, the judges in most cases follow it, which means that EU member states can regulate Uber and other such companies in the framework of transport legislation, rather than the "information society" service, as the company calls itself.

As the Financial Times notes, EU legislation suggests that local authorities cannot, without necessity, restrict activities of such services, while transport companies must obey local legislation.

The court will take a final decision on Uber later this year.

Uber has already challenged the regulation of taxi markets in different countries, and in several cases, the European Court took the company’s side. In May, the court must pass an advisory opinion on a lawsuit, where Uber claims that technology services should not be regulated by the rules for traditional taxi services.

Earlier, use of a special program to deceive transport officials brought the service under criminal investigation. We are talking about software called Greyball. It helped Uber drivers avoid problems with authorities in cities where the service's work had not yet been officially authorized. The program detected employees of transport departments (using information on their credit cards and social network profiles, which is not stipulated by the user agreement) and did not allow them to call an Uber car from their smartphone, thus preventing them from collecting evidence of illegal activities.

The criminal investigation, on which the US Department of Justice and Uber declined to comment, could be another major problem for the $ 68 billion global startup. Recall, competitors and former employees are attacking the company in courts, and media is not stopping negative publications. It seems that one of the main reasons for these problems were outlook and life principles of Uber’s founder Travis Kalanick. The startup’s Head professes the libertarian ideology of unlimited business and achievement of "victory at any cost."