Uber is an international transportation network company (TNC) and technology company, best known for its peer-to-peer ridesharing operations worldwide. It has its headquarters in San Francisco, California, and has subsidiaries in many countries. The company has experienced many protests to their entry into many markets around the world, and has been subjected to a variety of laws to regulate its activities.
A number of communities, governments, and organizations have established rules and regulations that specifically govern TNCs and, in some jurisdictions, TNCs operations are completely illegal. Regulations can include requirements for driver background checks, fares, the number of drivers, and licensing.
Taxi industry groups have argued that TNCs are illegal taxicab operations which take away their business. Others have called for governments to relax legislation in favor of ridesharing companies such as Uber.
Uber is banned from or has voluntary pulled out of, due to legal restrictions, the following jurisdictions: parts of Oregon, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, and parts of Germany. The UberPop level of service is banned in Italy, France, Netherlands, and Finland.
Legally, Uber claims its drivers are independent contractors, and not employees. This designation may affect taxation, work hours, and overtime benefits and has been controversial. Lawsuits have been filed by Uber drivers alleging that they are entitled to the rights and remedies of being considered "employees" under employment law.
In May 2015, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) issued a directive stating that drivers that generate income via a TNC need to have an Australian Business Number and be registered to pay the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Uber filed suit in the Federal Court of Australia, arguing that the public issue by the ATO "unfairly targets Uber's driver-partners". In February 2017, a justice found in favor of the ATO, requiring drivers to register, collect and pay GST. The ATO ruling overrides the standard applied to other small Australian businesses, which only requires businesses grossing more than A$75,000 to collect and remit GST.
Ridesharing was legalized in the Australian Capital Territory in September 2015. At the same time, fees for taxis and hire cars were reduced to enable them to compete against rideshare operators. Taxis will continue to have the exclusive right to work at taxi ranks or be hailed.
On 30 April 2014, Transport for New South Wales clarified that TNC services must be provided in a licensed taxi or hire car, by an appropriately accredited driver. In December 2014, the New South Wales government confirmed that in April 2014, it conducted an unannounced search of Uber's Sydney offices in April.
In August 2015, the New South Wales government created a task force to look into regulating Uber. From 17 December 2015, taxi and ridesharing passengers pay a $1 levy per trip for five years to fund a $250 million compensation fund for taxi licence holders.
In mid-November 2014, the Taxi Council of Queensland (TCQ) launched an anti-Uber media campaign. Uber defended itself against the claims.
Ridesharing was legalised in South Australia on 1 July 2016, following a review that commenced in January 2015. As part of the reform package, compensation was offered for those in the taxi industry, and a $1 metropolitan ride levy was introduced to fund the compensation. Taxis will continue to have the exclusive right to work at ranks or be hailed.
On 6 May 2014, the Victorian Taxi Service Commission fined Uber drivers A$1,723. State officers said that they will review the state's Transport Act, while Uber said it will reimburse its drivers.
On 4 December 2015, an Uber driver was found guilty of driving a hire car without a licence or registration. The case was the first of 12 brought against Uber drivers. On 18 May 2016, the judgement was overturned on appeal, effectively legalizing Uber in Victoria.
On 25 August 2016, the government announced plans to legalize ridesharing in Victoria. From 2018, taxi licences were abolished and licence holders compensated by an 8-year A$1 levy on all taxi and ride-booking services in the state.
From 18 December 2015, new regulations were introduced, including a requirement that TNC apply for omnibus licences, as required by taxi services. Both Uber and the taxi industry supported the regulations, which provided certainty.
Uber was launched on November 22, 2016 in Dhaka, but within 36 hours of its launching, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) declared it illegal. Uber and other TNCs lobbied the government to legalize TNCs. Though the government ban was still on effect, the TNCs operated in the city. On December 3, 2017, the BRTA formulated a guideline for TNCs and most of the TNCs were given operating licenses by February 2018.
The CNG Auto-rickshaw Drivers of Dhaka and Chittagong implemented a strike action on December 27–28, 2017 with 8 demands that included a ban on TNCs. They faced a huge backlash from general public as the CNG auto-rickshaw drivers are notoriously known for overcharging passengers, breaking traffic rules, and misconduct with passengers. In early 2018, a large faction CNG auto-rickshaw drivers decided to join Uber and the TNCs, which operate auto-rickshaw service.
In April 2014, Uber was banned in Brussels, and the company was threatened with fines of €10,000 if it offers fares to drivers who are not in possession of a taxi license. Bruxelles-Mobilite, the city's federal region administration responsible for infrastructure and traffic, impounded 13 cars aligned with Uber after March 2014 and a spokesperson for the body described the service as "illegal" in June 2014. The spokesperson also said in a public statement that Bruxelles-Mobilite was generally addressing the issue of illegal taxi drivers in a sector that was difficult to regulate. Although already banned in Brussels, Uber advertised for a Brussels-based "General Manager" on the LinkedIn website in June 2014. The advertisement stated that the role was "by far the most demanding position Uber has to offer."
In October 2015, Uber suspended its UberPOP service, but continued to operate its UberX service, which uses licensed drivers. In March 2018, taxi drivers protested, blocking roads, demanding the government drop plans to make it easier for TNCs to operate.
On April 29, 2015, a Brazilian court banned Uber in response to complaints by a taxi drivers' union. The court also ordered Apple Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft, and Samsung Electronics to prevent installation and use of the Uber mobile app by Brazilian residents. A few weeks later, the order was revoked, allowing Uber to operate normally.
In October 2015, Fernando Haddad, the mayor of São Paulo, signed a bill to allow for a new category of "black taxis" which would operate in parallel to the city's existing licensed taxis but only be bookable via mobile phone apps. Uber rejected the proposal.
Uber drivers in Canada are required "to register, collect and remit HST/GST from their fares to the government", regardless of their income.
On December 5, 2012, Toronto officials charged Uber with 25 municipal licensing infractions, including operation of an unlicensed taxi brokerage and unlicensed limousine service. Municipal officials said they had advised the company to comply with local regulations and that rival taxi dispatch apps had obtained licenses. Despite support from some quarters including mayor John Tory, Toronto Police Service launched a crackdown on Uber drivers. In July 2015, a $400M class-action lawsuit was filed against UberX and UberXL in Toronto on behalf of Ontario taxi and limo drivers, brokers, and owners, who alleged that Uber violated section 39.1 of the province's Highway Traffic Act by having unlicensed drivers picking up passengers and transporting them for compensation. In March 2016, Sukhvir Tehethi, a local taxi driver, filed an injunction against Uber to stop it from operating. A Toronto city councillor warned that passengers using UberX may be fined up to $20,000. On March 3, 2016, after hours of heated debate, the City Council of Toronto passed a bylaw allowing UberX to operate legally in the city with conditions, while also cutting regulations for taxis.
Edmonton officials unveiled a proposed TNC bylaw on September 9, 2015 to permit Uber to operate legally in Edmonton. Uber opposed the accompanying regulations. Uber was legalized in Edmonton on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 effective as of March 1, 2016. However, Uber ceased operations in Edmonton on March 1, 2016, citing inability to obtain the necessary insurance. Uber continued to operate outside of Edmonton despite lack of insurance or proper licensing of their drivers.
Uber continues to negotiate with the government of Quebec after the government issued regulations requiring drivers to undergo 35 hours of training and a background check.
On August 21, 2015, Uber started operations in Costa Rica and multiple Uber drivers were immediately attacked by taxi drivers.
In December 2014, in Chongqing, police raided a training session organised by Uber that was attended by more than 20 drivers. In April 2015, Chinese authorities raided the offices of Uber in Guangzhou, Guangdong.
Before Uber began operations in Croatia, the Sustainable Development of Croatia party and major taxi service companies were against it, stating that the price of Uber service doesn't compensate the drivers enough for gas, car maintenance, passenger insurance, nor health and retirement insurance for the driver, and Uber prices also don't include VAT nor surtax. In October 2015, Uber initiated service in Zagreb. In June 2016, the Uber started operating in Split, Croatia and Dubrovnik. In September 2016, a group of taxi drivers attacked a Uber driver who was waiting for a passenger at Zagreb Airport. The Uber driver canceled the ride before the passenger arrived and drove away, with the attackers following him. The attack was filmed by the victim and reported to the Law enforcement in Croatia.
The biggest protests against Uber in Prague took place in February 2018, when the taxi drivers drove forth and back along the highway. This was repeated for several days. Roads in Prague was also occupied by taxi drivers in October 2017 when they protested near the airport. Uber's activity in Brno was preliminarily stopped by the regional court in July 2017, but in October 2017, a higher court canceled the measure. In March 2018, Uber concluded an agreement with the Czech government. Drivers under this agreement will have to be licensed as taxi drivers.
After Uber Black and UberPop were launched in Copenhagen in November 2014, the Danish Transport Authority filed a complaint accusing Uber of operating illegally. In January 2015, Denmark's transport minister stated that, although he was not opposed to Uber, the app was "contrary" to Danish law—consumer safety and employee training were identified as the key concerns.
In July 2016, 6 Uber drivers were convicted for offering taxi services without license. Police also charged more than 48 Uber drivers for unlicensed taxi driving.
Uber shut operations in Denmark in April 2017.
After several protests, sit-ins, and violent attacks by taxi operators in 2016 and a lawsuit filed in March 2018, the Egyptian government legalized Uber and Careem in May 2018. The regulations require the TNCs to pay license fees and share user data with the government.
On June 11, 2014, in a concerted action, taxis blocked roads in major European cities in protest against what they perceived as a threat to their livelihoods from TNCs. The cabbies contended that Uber and similar smartphone app-based services have an unfair advantage because they are not subject to the same kinds of fees and regulations placed on taxis.
In December 2017, the European Court of Justice ruled that Uber is a transport company, subject to local transport regulation in European Union member states, rather than a information society service as Uber had argued.
Uber launched UberPop in Helsinki in 2014. In September 2016, the Helsinki Court of Appeal deemed Uber illegal, as the company was did not have a taxi license. Drivers faced criminal prosecution.
In 2018, Uber was legalized in Finland.
On October 17, 2014, a court ruled that Uber was illegal and stated that UberPop violated a pre-existent regulation that bans carpooling for profit and fined Uber €100,000.
On December 12, 2014, a French court ruled that Uber could not advertise some of its services to the general public in France; if it did so, it would face a $25,000 daily fine.
Effective January 1, 2015, UberPop was banned under the provisions of the Thévenoud Law, which requires anyone carrying passengers for hire to be licensed and have insurance.
By February 23, 2015 about 100 drivers, mostly first-time offenders, had been ticketed.
On June 25, 2015, cab drivers in Paris "locked down" Paris in an anti-Uber protest that became increasingly violent. Musician Courtney Love got caught in the protest and live tweeted as her Uber cab was violently attacked and she and her driver were held hostage.
In June 2015, French authorities arrested 2 Uber managers on 6 charges, including "deceptive commercial practices", complicity in instigating an illegal taxi-driving activity, and the illegal stocking of personal information.
On July 5, 2015, Uber suspended UberPop in the face of pressure by the French government while awaiting a court decision.
In June 2016, a Paris court fined Uber €800,000, half suspended, for illegally running its UberPop service in 2015.
In early 2014, Berlin authorities ruled against Uber—which operated in the German cities of Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf—on two occasions following a case filed by the Berlin Taxi Association. The first ruling, delivered by a court in April 2014, deemed Uber's limousine service to be in breach of local legislation, while an August 13, 2014 decision banned the service from operating in Berlin due to safety concerns—the latter decision, which included a €25,000 fine for non-compliance, cited issues pertaining to unregulated vehicles and unqualified drivers who are not properly insured.
On August 28, 2014, a court in Frankfurt issued an immediate cease and desist order against Uber following an appeal from Taxi Deutschland. The preliminary injunction applied to all of Germany and included a fine of €250,000 per ride for non-compliance. If the injunction was breached, Uber's German-based employees could be jailed for up to 6 months and the company could be fined. UberBLACK was not affected by the ruling.
On September 16, 2014, the district court of Frankfurt revoked the preliminary injunction, thereby re-allowing Uber to operate in Germany. The presiding judge wrote that the Taxi Deutschland case "would have had prospects for success", but the case was merely lodged too late, as any case needs to be filed within two months of a service's launch—Uber started in Germany in April 2014, but the case was filed in August 2014.Taxi Deutschland appealed the ruling.
On March 18, 2015, a Frankfurt district court imposed a nationwide ban on UberPop, claiming that drivers do not have proper licensing and insurance. Each violation of this order would be subject to a €250,000 fine.
Uber then limited its operations to its UberX and UberBLACK services, which requires drivers that hold passenger transport licenses.
On August 11, 2015, Hong Kong Police raided Uber's office after arresting 5 drivers in a sting operation aimed at combating illegal taxis. Two more drivers were arrested on the next day. However, the Hong Kong government investment agency, InvestHK, had endorsed Uber as one of its "success stories" on its website, although the endorsement was later removed.
On March 15, 2018, a group of local taxi drivers protested outside the Hong Kong Police Headquarters, requesting for actions to be taken on those "unlicensed taxis". They accused Uber from using false and misleading documents to lie to the public. On the same day, another group of taxi drivers protested by honking their horns for 30 seconds in Admiralty, Hong Kong at noon. They also threatened to flood the area with their vehicles if no actions are taken by the government.
In April 2018, Uber suspended service in Greece after regulations were implemented that require all rides to begin and end in the fleet partner's designated headquarters or parking area.
The Hyderabad road transport authority banned Uber cabs a day after the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs advised all states to stop the operation of TNCs. A spokesman for the authority said that Uber did not hold a license to operate in the city, and asked the public to cease using Uber.
After Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced in Parliament on December 9, 2014 that he had advised all states and Union territories to ban unregistered and unlicensed cab services, the state government of Karnataka banned Uber on December 11, 2014.
In December 2014, following allegations of rape against an Uber driver in New Delhi, Uber was banned from New Delhi for not following the city's compulsory police verification procedure. The driver had been charged, then acquitted, of a prior sexual assault in 2011. Within two days of the rape incident, almost 7,000 people signed a petition calling on Uber to conduct mandatory 7-year background checks on drivers, in line with its U.S. operations. Delhi's transport department banned Uber. Uber issued a statement stating that it would work with the Indian government "to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs."
In banning Uber, Delhi's transport department cited several rules that Uber had broken. According to New Delhi's Radio Taxi Scheme, 2006, all taxi licensees must be either a company under the Companies Act, 2013 (or the 1956 Act), or a society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. Furthermore, taxi services must provide adequate parking space for all taxis, as well as sufficiently sized office space to accommodate the control room, the maintenance of a minimum fleet size per license (500 vehicles), and all vehicles must be fitted with GPS/GPRS tracking systems (to be in constant communication with the control room while on duty). The rules also stipulate that the taxi licensee is responsible for ensuring the quality of drivers, including police verifications, supervision, and employee behaviour.
Uber is faced with limits to the number of drivers that are allowed to operate.but now its operating in New Delhi.
On March 22, 2016, thousands of taxi drivers in Jakarta demonstrated against Uber and a similar service, Grab. Several places were targeted during the protests, including the Istana Merdeka, the DPR/MPR Building, and the Ministry of Communication and Informatics central office. Taxi drivers accused that Grab and Uber were causing them to receive smaller daily incomes due to the rising number of app users. The demonstrators also demanded that the government ban the apps and issue a governmental decree concerning this problem.
On April 9, 2018, Uber stopped its operations in Indonesia as a result of its merger with Grab.
Uber first introduced a limited service in the Tel Aviv area in August 2014. However, in November 2017 the Tel Aviv District Court issued a permanent injunction against Uber's utilizing private cars in Israel on the grounds that these lacked the insurance coverage of regulated taxis. Uber was allowed to provide its service in licensed taxis as do other crowd-sourced ride-hailing companies such as Gett. Although Uber had the support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the court ruled for the taxi companies and drivers who opposed Uber.
On April 6, 2017, Italian judge dott. Alfredo Landi banned the UberBlack, Uber-Lux, Uber-SUV, Uber-X, Uber-XL, UberSelect and Uber-Van app throughout Italy for unfair competition practices.
On December 8, 2014, Dutch judges banned UberPop and implemented a €100,000 fine and the €40,000 fine for drivers who are apprehended. At first Uber continued operating, but Uber shut down its service in November 2015 after office raids by Dutch authorities.
On October 15, 2014, five Uber drivers were involved in a crackdown by the Road Transport Department (JPJ), under the Ops Teksi Uber 2014 operation—which began on October 1. The 4 other vehicles were returned to their respective owners—with their documents confiscated pending further investigation by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD). Due to a wide range of circumstances, the 4 vehicles could be returned to owners should proper documents and other factors correlate. On October 17, 2014, JPJ continued its crackdown on drivers. Between October 2014 and October 2015, the Land Public Transport Commission impounded 44 Uber vehicles, using many methods such as tracking the vehicles using Uber's app. It was also reported that some taxi drivers have taken it upon themselves to nab Uber drivers and turn them over to the police.
In January 2015, several Uber vehicles were stopped by New Zealand police, claiming that Uber was in violation of the Land Transport Act. Two Uber drivers were charged with violating the Land Transport Act and face fines of up to NZ$10,000.
On January 20, 2015, the Associate Transport Minister, Craig Foss, said that the rules covering taxis and private hire services, including Uber, will be reviewed by New Zealand officials by mid-2015.
In April and May 2016 the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) sent warnings to 17 Uber drivers who did not comply with current regulations.
On August 3, 2017, Uber New Zealand GM, Richard Menzies, announced that Uber is formally recognized as part of the public transport mix, meaning it can legally operate in New Zealand. Uber Eats was later launched in New Zealand that year.
Uber began operations in Norway in 2014.
According to the Norwegian Professional Transport Act, a taxi license is required to charge for passenger transport "addressed to general public on public space" In 2015, an Uber driver was acquitted because the court found that communication through a mobile app was not to be regarded as "public space."
On October 23, 2014, despite the recommendation of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Philippine Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) imposed a ₱120,000 (US$2,676) to ₱200,000 (US$4,460) fine for the use of the Uber app. A spokesperson for the board said that the fines were issued because Uber did not have an approved franchise to operate in the country. The LTFRB also remarked that Uber can still operate in Metro Manila if the House of Representatives of the Philippines grants the company a proper legislative franchise.
Amid opposition from taxi companies, On May 10, 2015, TNCs gained legal ground to operate, with the country's Department of Transportation and Communications giving them a new classification as The Transportation Network Vehicle Service. The country requires a GPS system installed, a young fleet of vehicles, and the appropriate permits. Taxis were also given a chance to compete by also giving them a sub-classification that matches features found in Uber and other similar services. On August 19, 2015, Uber complied and secured government registration to become the country's second TNC after Grab]]. Individual vehicle operators however still need to undergo separate registrations with the LTFRB.
The service was suspended for a month on August 14, 2017 due to the defiance of LTFRB's order on not to accredit drivers in their systems starting July 26, 2017.
Following the commencement of Uber services in Warsaw in 2014, Jaroslaw Iglikowski, chief of the Union of Warsaw Taxi Drivers, said: "We will put pressure on politicians, and demand that they change the regulations [for firms offering taxi services]."
In 2015, following protests by taxi drivers, laws were modified so that Uber drivers do not enjoy a regulatory advantage over taxi drivers.
In May 2015, the Romanian Parliament adopted a law which banned transport services by unauthorized drivers, effectively making Uber illegal; however, Uber continues to operate in Romania as it battles in the courts.
In March 2017, Saudi Arabia banned Uber and Careem from picking up at the airport, citing license requirements. Saudi Arabia had earlier banned the TNCs from allowing non-Saudis to register as drivers.
On February 10, 2017, the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA)ruled that private hire cars who used Uber or Grab service are not exempted from the child seat requirement. For safety reasons, all vehicles in Singapore must have booster seats or child restraints for passengers under 1.35m in height.
In March 2017, LTA introduced a new regulation for private hire cars called Private Hire Car Driver's Vocational Licence (PDVL) which took effect in July 2017. This is to ensure that commuter's interest is better protected.
In Cape Town, on June 3, 2016, metered taxi drivers blockaded the road to the city's airport and forced passengers out of vehicles whilst attacking Uber drivers.
In August 2018, Uber opposed a new law that would prohibit the company for allowing drivers to operate without a license, subject to a fine up up to R100,000, claiming that many drivers were facing delays in getting permits from government agencies.
The Seoul city government released an official statement in July 2014 expressing its intention to ban Uber. The government stated that South Korean law prohibits fee-paying transport services that use unregistered private or rented vehicles, and a Seoul driver received a one-million won (US$974) fine in April 2014 after using Uber to solicit customers in a rented car. The city government also initiated a police investigation of Uber in June 2014, but the request was suspended due to a lack of evidence; however, the July statement indicated that the investigation would be recommenced.
In December 2014, Uber announced that the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office had issued an indictment against both the company and Kalanick in regard to the violation of a Korean law prohibiting individuals or firms without appropriate license from providing or facilitating transportation services.
In March 2015, Uber suspended its UberX service in Korea after disputes with officials.
On December 9, 2014, In the absence of any legal provision for private hire, a judge ordered Uber to cease all activities in Spain. In a statement after the ruling, the Spanish court stated that drivers "lack the administrative authorisation to carry out the job, and the activity they carry out constitutes unfair competition." The company suspended its operations in Spain on December 30, 2014.
In March 2018, the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, gave the legal opinion that under the conditions that bind drivers to Uber that they should be classified as employees.
As of December 6, 2014, Uber Taiwan had received over NT$1,000,000 in fines for operating illegally, including a cease and desist of the app, on December 5, 2014. Issues included failure to insure vehicles, operating like a business without a business license, metered fares unknown to passengers, metered fares not inspected by the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, and failure to report income and pay taxes. Many drivers had their licenses suspended for violations. In December 2014, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications announced that the company was operating unlicensed taxis in violation of national law, and that the government was considering blocking the service.
Uber was fined 231 million Taiwan dollars ($7.4 million) over two weeks after new rules introduced on January 6, 2017. On February 2, 2017, Uber announced it will suspend its service in Taiwan after the fines.
Following concerns raised by taxi drivers in Thailand over Uber's lower rates, Uber was declared illegal on November 28, 2014 under Thailand's Motor Vehicle Act B.E. 2522, claiming that Uber vehicles are not properly registered in Thailand, Thai Uber drivers are not properly licensed, and that Uber discriminates against people who do not possess credit cards. Following the announcement, Uber drivers faced a maximum 4,000-baht fine if caught by police.
In March 2016, Uber was forced to shut its motor bike taxi service.
In January 2017, after a long spat with regulators, Uber signed an agreement with the Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai. Under this deal, Uber is entitled to deploy about 14,000 vehicles around the city.
On October 28, 2016, in the case of Aslam v Uber BV, the Central London Employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are "workers", rather than self-employed individuals, and are entitled to the minimum wage under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998, paid holiday, and other normal worker entitlements. Two Uber drivers had brought the test case to the employment tribunal with the assistance of the GMB Union, on behalf of a group of drivers in London. Uber appealed the decision.Two Uber drivers had brought the case to the employment tribunal with the assistance of the GMB Union on 20 July 2016. On November 10, the court upheld the ruling against Uber's appeal, although the company announced it would launch a new appeal.
On 11 June 2014, London-based Hackney carriage (black cab) drivers, members of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, disrupted traffic as a protest against Transport for London's refusal to stop Uber's calculation of fares based on distance and time taken, as they claimed it infringes upon their right to be the sole users of taximeters in London. The following week, London mayor Boris Johnson stated it would be "difficult" for him to ban Uber "without the risk of a judicial review"; however, he expressed sympathy for the view of the black-cab drivers. On October 16, 2015, after Transport for London brought a case to the High Court of Justice to determine whether the way Uber's app calculates a fare falls under the definition of a taximeter, it was ruled that the app is legal in London.
On September 22, 2017 Transport for London announced that it would not renew the license of Uber's local service provider, which was due to expire at the end of that month. Transport for London declared that Uber London Limited was not "fit and proper" to hold a private hire operator license, citing concerns over the company's approach to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and Disclosure and Barring Service checks, and the use of Greyball. Uber indicated that it would appeal the decision. On June 26, 2018 Westminster Magistrates' Court granted a license for 15 months with additional conditions. Uber had applied for a 5-year license.
On December 12, 2017 York's Gambling, Licensing & Regulatory Committee voted to deny the renewal of Uber's license due to a data breach in 2016 and several complaints against the company and drivers. Uber appealed with QC Philip Kolvin, taking City of York Council to the Magistrates.
Uber withdrew from the appeal on March 14, 2018 with the plan to reapply for the license.
On May 1, 2018, Brighton and Hove City Council's licensing panel refused to renew Uber's private hire operator license in the city. It cited "significant concerns" about the car hailing app's data breach in 2016, and whether the company was adhering to its commitment to use only Brighton and Hove licensed drivers in the city. Uber said it would appeal.
Uber developed an internal software tool called Greyball, which uses data collected from the Uber mobile app other means, to avoid giving rides to certain individuals. The tool was used starting in 2014. By showing "ghost cars" driven by fake drivers to the targeted individuals in the Uber mobile app, and by giving real drivers a means to cancel rides requested by those individuals, Uber was able to avoid giving rides to known law enforcement officers in areas where its service is illegal. Investigative journalism by The New York Times and the resulting report, published on March 3, 2017, made public Uber's use of Greyball since 2014, describing it as a way to evade city code enforcement officials in Portland, Oregon, Australia, South Korea, and China. At first, in response to the report, Uber stated that Greyball was designed to deny rides to users who violate Uber's terms of service, including those involved in sting operations. According to Uber, Greyball can "hide the standard city app view for individual riders, enabling Uber to show that same rider a different version". Uber reportedly used Greyball to identify government officials through factors such as whether a user frequently opens the app near government offices, a review of social media profiles by Uber employees to identify law enforcement personnel, and the credit cards associated with the Uber account.
The United States Department of Labor issued guidelines in July 2015 to deal with, what it considers, "misclassification" of workers. It argues that any "worker who is 'economically dependent' on the employer should be treated as an employee. By contrast, a worker must be in business for himself or herself to be an independent contractor." The guideline was non-binding, but is expected to have some influence in various court cases which may establish new common law on the issue.
According to a February 2017 lawsuit filed by Waymo, owned by an affiliate of Google, ex-Google employee Anthony Levandowski allegedly "downloaded 9.7 GB of Waymo's highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation" before resigning to found Otto, which was purchased by Uber. A ruling in May 2017 required Uber to return documents to Waymo. The trial began February 5, 2018. A settlement was announced February 8, 2018 with Uber giving Waymo $244 million in Uber equity and an agreement to ensure Uber does not infringe Waymo's intellectual property.
In 2017 a lawsuit was filed alleging that Uber uses "sophisticated software" to defraud both drivers and passengers. According to the suit, under the upfront pricing model, when a passenger is quoted a price the app shows a longer more expensive route, meanwhile would-be drivers are shown a shorter cheaper route. The passenger is charged for the more expensive route, while the driver is paid the cheaper, with Uber pocketing the difference.
In March 2018, a lawsuit was filed against Uber in the United States accusing the company's drivers of not serving a woman with cerebral palsy due to her service dog in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Texas Human Resources Code.
In September 2015, Uber paid the State of Alaska $77,925 and paused operations in Anchorage. The state argued that Uber was misclassifying drivers as contractors instead of employees, which was illegal.
In May 2011, Uber received a cease-and-desist letter from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, claiming it was operating an unlicensed taxi service, and another legal demand from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that it was operating an unlicensed limousine dispatch. Both claimed criminal violations and demanded that the company cease operations. In response, the company, among other things, changed its name from UberCab to Uber. In the fall of 2012, the CPUC issued a cease-and-desist letter to Uber, Lyft, and SideCar, and fined each $20,000. However, an interim agreement was reached in 2013 reversing those actions.
In September 2013, the CPUC unanimously voted to make the agreement permanent, creating a new category of service called transportation network company to cover Lyft, UberX, SideCar, and Summon, thereby making California the first jurisdiction to recognize such services.
On September 17, 2014, California's Governor approved the "Assembly Bill No. 2293" bill that became effective on July 1, 2015. The bill amended "the Passenger Charter-party Carriers' Act to enact specified requirements for liability insurance coverage for transportation network companies, as defined, and their participating drivers." The driver under the law is defined as "any person who uses a vehicle in connection with a transportation network company's online-enabled application or platform to connect with passengers." The stated minimum insurance requirement ranges from US$50,000 to $100,000 for death and injuries per individual or incident, and stipulates US$30,000 for property damage. As a breach of the bill is classified as a criminal act, a corresponding "state-mandated local program" will be implemented.
In April 2016, a case that was originally filed on December 9, 2014, by the district attorneys of both Los Angeles, California, and San Francisco was resolved. Prosecutors claimed that Uber made misleading statements about the background checks it performs on drivers and falsely charged a "safe ride fee." The case was resolved when Uber agreed to no longer claim to be the "safest ride on the road", change the name of the "safe ride fee" to "booking fee", and pay $10 million. San Francisco's city attorneys had previously settled out of court with Lyft over similar allegations.
On December 14, 2016, the California Department of Motor Vehicles demanded that Uber cease its autonomous car program in San Francisco or obtain a licence, threatening legal action. Following the invitation of tech enthusiast and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Uber decided to move its fleet to Phoenix, Arizona.
In a class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on August 16, 2013, Uber drivers plead that they were employees who had been misclassified as independent contractors in violation of the California Labor Code and demanded that they be given payment of business expenses such as gas and maintenance of their vehicles. In March 2015, District Judge Edward M. Chen ruled that the case will be resolved by a jury, dismissing a motion for summary judgement. On September 1, 2015, Chen certified the class but generally limited it to drivers in California hired before June 2014, when an opt-out arbitration clause was included in the contract, who had directly contracted with Uber.
In June 2014, Colorado became the first state to pass rules for TNCs through the legislative process, when S 125 was signed into law.
On October 5, 2012, Uber was sued by the taxi and livery companies in Chicago. Uber was accused of violating Chicago city laws and Illinois state laws designed to protect public safety, consumer protection, and fair practices. Regulations affecting TNCs were approved in December 2014.
On August 1, 2012, the Massachusetts Division of Standards issued a cease-and-desist letter to Uber on the grounds that the GPS-based smartphone app was not a certified measurement device, but on August 15, the agency reversed its ruling after prodding by Governor Deval Patrick, saying that technique was satisfactory because it was under study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Uber worked out an arrangement with the city of Boston to share quarterly data on the duration, locations, and times of day in which riders used the app to travel in or out of the city. This information was first delivered to the city in February 2015, and the report kept all individual user data private.
The legislature passed a law formally legalizing and regulating TNCs in July 2016. The law requires background checks, vehicle decals and inspections, insurance, state certification of drivers; prohibits increased fares during a declared emergency or for passengers with disabilities; requires drivers to be 21 or older; and sets up a complaint process and commission to review the economics of the whole ride-for-hire industry. Unlike taxis, TNC vehicles are prohibited from "cruising" for passengers on streets. The law also establishes a $0.20 per-ride charge, which is distributed to cities and towns for transportation and ride-for-hire economic development purposes.
In December 2016, Michigan instituted regulations on TNCs.
In July 2014, the Minneapolis City Council voted almost unanimously to legalize TNCs.
On November 25, 2014, Washoe County, Nevada District Court Judge Scott Freeman, issued a preliminary injunction preventing Uber from operating statewide. The temporary injunction was based on the company's failure to file a certificate of public convenience and necessity, which is required for every transportation service in Nevada. The Government of Nevada also claimed that Uber's screening process was not rigorous enough to protect consumers, and failed to conform with the aforementioned regulations. Uber contested the ruling, arguing that it is an app-based technology company rather than a transportation company, but the company's management made the decision to temporarily shut down its Nevada operations. Nevada legalized TNCs in May 2015.
Legislation passed in 2016 in New Hampshire requires each TNC (not each driver) to pay an annual fee of $500. It also includes requirements that each TNC get a permit from the state, obtain a driver history report on each driver that meets the provisions of the law, and require their drivers to have liability insurance.
In January 2017, the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance called for a halt in pickups from JFK Airport in New York City in response to Donald Trump's Executive Order 13769, which banned entry to the United States from citizens of 7 predominately Muslim countries. Uber users accused the company of attempting to profit from the strike and were angered that Uber did not halt pickups from JFK Airport in solidarity. Some users deleted the Uber app from their phones. Kalanick responded by signing an open letter to President Donald Trump that requested he rescind his executive order.
In May 2017, after a class action lawsuit was filed by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) in federal court in New York, Uber admitted to underpaying New York City drivers tens of millions of dollars over 2.5 years by calculating driver commissions on a net amount. Uber agreed to pay the amounts owed plus interest.
On December 8, 2014, Portland, Oregon sued Uber, claiming that Uber violates the city's Private for Hire Transportation Regulations and Administrative Rules. The court was asked to stop Uber from operating in Portland. Uber suspended its operations in the city for 3 months, pending planned changes to local regulations.
On March 6, 2017, the City of Portland, Oregon announced an investigation into whether Uber had used its Greyball software tool to obstruct the enforcement of city regulations. The investigation by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) found that:
When Uber illegally entered the Portland market in December 2014, the company tagged 17 individual rider accounts, 16 of which have been identified as government officials using its Greyball software tool. Uber used Greyball software to intentionally evade PBOT’s officers from December 5 to December 19, 2014 and deny 29 separate ride requests by PBOT enforcement officers.
Following the release of the audit, Portland's commissioner of police suggested that the city subpoena Uber in order to force the company to turn over information on how Uber used software to evade regulatory officials.
In December 2014, Checker Cab Philadelphia and 44 other taxi companies in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit alleging that Uber was operating illegally in the city. On March 3, 2015, U.S. District Judge Nitza I. Quinones Alejandro denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against Uber.
In January 2016, a $1.5M lawsuit was filed against Uber in Philadelphia by Philadelphia taxicab medallion owners, claiming that Uber engaged in tortious interference and engaged in false advertising under the Lanham Act. The case was dismissed in August 2016.
Philadelphia legalized TNCs in November 2016.
On May 7, 2016, Uber and Lyft announced they would no longer provide service in Austin after city voters rejected a referendum backed by the TNCs that would have repealed a city ordinance requiring their drivers to submit to fingerprint-based background checks.
In late 2016, Uber threatened to leave Houston ahead of Super Bowl LI, insisting various city regulations, including fingerprint background checks of drivers, were too burdensome. Houston officials and Uber reached a compromise in December 2016, whereby Houston would continue to require a fingerprint check for drivers but eliminate requirements for driver drug testing and physicals through at least February 5, 2017.
Regulations affecting TNCs were implemented in December 2014.
On June 5, 2014, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles issued a cease-and-desist letter to both Uber and Lyft, demanding they halt operations within Virginia. In February 2015, TNCs were legalized in Virginia.
In March 2014, to appease taxi drivers, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance in March 2014 that capped the number of drivers from any TNC on the road at any given time to 150. However, on April 17, 2014, after a coalition obtained 36,000 signatures to put the question to voters in a referendum, Mayor Ed Murray announced a 45-day negotiation process to find an alternative approach. Uber donated over $613,000 to "Seattle Citizens to Repeal Ordinance 124441", a political group seeking to overturn the ordinance limiting the number of TNC vehicles in Seattle. In June 2014, the mayor reached a deal to legalize TNCs with no driver limits. The compromise was passed by the city council in July 2014.
In January 2012, an Uber driver's car was impounded as part of a sting by the Washington, D.C. taxicab commission. The commissioner said the company was operating an unlicensed taxicab service in the city. Following a social media campaign by Uber riders, the D.C. city council voted in July 2012 to formally legalize TNCs, which led to protests by taxicab drivers. The Washington, D.C. City Council passed legislation in September 2013 to allow TNCs to operate.
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