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France, Uber Argue Over Definition of Transport Service
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Uber

Summary: France and Uber are at odds over what truly makes a service a transportation service compared to a digital service.

Uber claims they are a digital service. France believes they are a transport service. The U.S. ride-hailing app company went before the top court in Europe after only being in the country for five years, trying to explain that they cater to digital users over all else. Uber is also claiming that a French law targets online taxi services.

  
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Uber has faced a tough legal battle in their attempt at redefining taxi services to an online service. Traditional taxi services argue that Uber is not fair because they bypass the strict licensing and safety rules that they have to abide by when providing the same service. Uber has been able to get around the guidelines by stating they are just a service that connects riders with drivers and do not provide a transportation service directly from themselves. Uber lawyer Hugues Calvet compared their service to that of online booking services like Booking.com and Travelocity.com. Their hotel booking service is providing the connection of a customer to an available bed but does not actually provide the room themselves.

The case is before the Court of Justice of the European Union which received the case from a court in Lille. A French law in 2014 placed limits on taxis and chauffeured services. It is now a criminal offense to organize illegal taxi services, placing restrictions on the ability to use software to find riders in the street. Uber finds the law to be targeted solely against online services.

The European Commission sided the Uber in believing that Brussels should have been brought into the case since the law requires them to be informed of any laws regarding online services. France failed to involve Brussels of their law so Uber claims criminal penalties cannot be brought against them. Joanna Hottiaux, a European Commission lawyer, explained that the law France is claiming to be against any illegal taxi ride is hard to believe. The number of people advertising an illegal taxi service in a widespread area to justify specific legislation as being needed is unlikely.

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Uber was using UberPOP in France, a service that uses unlicensed drivers. Two of the app’s executives were fined for the service and it was later suspended. Uber also already been banned in several countries and cities throughout Europe after losing lawsuits in Spain, Belgium, Germany, and France.

Uber also has a case that the court will rule on regarding their classification in Barcelona. The main taxi operator in the country has asked the ECJ to decide if Uber is a digital or transport service.



The company is suffering in other areas as well. A number of executives have left the company over criticism of the work culture. Uber is valued at $68 billion with investors including Goldman Sachs and GV, formerly known as Google Ventures.

Do you think Uber is a digital or transport service? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about Uber, read these articles:

Photo: fortune.com



 

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