29 June 2015

Regulatory Sanity on the "Sharing Economy"

Uber has been operating illegally in France for some time, and following protests from cab drivers, French authorities took Uber executives into custody:
On Monday, French authorities took two Uber executives into custody for questioning as part of an investigation into UberPop, the startup’s lower cost alternative.

Local media have named the men as Thibaut Simphal, the CEO for France, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, the CEO for Western Europe. Under French law, both men can be held for up to 48 hours without being charged.

"Our general managers for France and Western Europe today attended a hearing with the French police," Gareth Mead, an Uber spokesman, told Ars in a statement. "We are always happy to answer questions the authorities have about our service—and look forward to resolving these issues. Those discussions are ongoing. In the meantime, we’re continuing to ensure the safety of our riders and drivers in France given last week's disturbances."


The primary regulatory issue in France is that UberPop’s drivers operate under a VTC license (vĂ©hicules de tourisme avec chauffeur, or tourism vehicles with a driver). Created in 2009, this license was designed for pre-booked travel, not on-the-street hails. UberPop’s drivers are like their UberX counterparts in the United States: normal people with regular cars who do not have an expensive French taxi license. As such, traditional taxi drivers in France have been upset that Uber seems to be flouting the law. Uber maintains that it is a technology company and not a traditional taxi company, and therefore the company believes it's not bound by taxi law.
It's nice to find authorities who doesn't ignore the law, "Because ……… Internet."

Uber has been operating an illegal taxi service, and been abusing its drivers, and the public, with its business model, and it's good that someone is acting on this, albeit with some prodding by protesters.


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