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US city of Portland sues Uber
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (AFP) Dec 09, 2014

Dutch judges ban taxi service UberPOP
The Hague (AFP) Dec 08, 2014 - Dutch judges on Monday banned the popular ride-sharing service UberPOP from taking bookings via its smartphone app, threatening the US company with fines of up to 100,000 euros ($123,000).

A court ordered Uber to stop its UberPOP service, which allows non-professional drivers to register with Uber via a mobile phone and offer trips in their own cars at half the price of a regular cab.

"Drivers who transport people for payment without a licence are breaking the law," said the decision from the Hague-based Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal.

Uber could be fined up to 100,000 euros, and drivers could face fines of 10,000 euros for continuing to work, up to a maximum of 40,000 euros.

A defiant Uber reacted in a statement by saying it "will continue to offer UberPOP."

Monday's decision "is simply the first step in a long-running judicial battle," the San Francisco-based company added.

UberPOP is one of several services offered by the online taxi startup, which appealed a Dutch government decision in September to have it banned.

Uber said that it was merely offering a "car-sharing service."

But the judges sided with government on Monday, pointing out that Uber receives a 20 percent commission for each trip.

Uber launched UberPOP as a pilot project in Amsterdam between July and September.

Last week Uber extended the service to The Hague and Rotterdam.

Several drivers were arrested in Amsterdam in October and fined 1,500 euros. Drivers were also arrested on the first day of operations in Rotterdam.

Uber has expanded at breakneck speed since it launched in 2009 and is now present in more than 200 cities across 45 countries.

But its rapid growth has caused tensions, especially in Europe where rival taxi companies have protested that Uber cars are not subject to the same regulations.

A tribunal in Paris, France, will decide on Friday whether Uber's services constitute unfair competition to traditional taxi drivers.

Delhi's government on Monday banned Uber from operating in the Indian capital after a passenger accused one of its drivers of rape.

The US city of Portland, Oregon, has sued ride-sharing startup Uber, saying it was operating illegally, officials said Monday.

The suit also asked the court to order the service to stop operating in Portland until it is in compliance with city rules.

"Uber is subject to and in violation of the city of Portland's Private for Hire Transportation Regulations and Administrative Rules," the suit said.

Uber is the most prominent of many new smartphone-dependent car services seen as bypassing strict regulations faced by licensed cab drivers.

"Our main concern is public health and safety, because the state invested in the cities the responsibility to do that," Mayor Charlie Hales said.

"Beyond that, though, is the issue of fairness. Taxi cab companies follow rules on public health and safety. So do hotels and restaurants and construction companies and scores of other service providers. Because everyone agrees: Good regulations make for a safer community. Uber disagrees, so we're seeking a court injunction."

The company sought to play up widespread public support.

"Uber has received a tremendously warm welcome from riders and drivers in and around Portland. We appreciate the way residents have welcomed Uber," said company spokeswoman Eva Behrend.

She said that almost 7,000 Portland residents had signed the petition in support of Uber in just a few hours.

Uber said last week that it had raised a fresh $1.2 billion in funding, giving the popular ride-sharing startup a reported value of some $40 billion.

Founded in California in 2009, Uber is best known for its smartphone app that lets people who need a ride connect with local drivers. The app uses GPS to put the user in contact with the nearest driver. Uber charges a commission for each ride.

Its fast expansion has riled taxi drivers in countries where it operates, since they often face significant rules and regulations, and attendant costs.

Uber has also faced scrutiny following negative comments about the news media from a top executive and revelations that it offered a "God view" of customers that could allow spying. The company hired experts to conduct a privacy review.

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Paris mayor wants limits on cars in centre, end to diesel
Paris (AFP) Dec 07, 2014
The mayor of Paris on Sunday laid out a plan to limit cars in the city's historic centre and said she wanted to ban diesel vehicles by 2020. "In the four central districts, apart from bikes, buses and taxis, the only vehicles allowed will be residents' cars, delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles," Anne Hidalgo said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche weekly. Hidalgo said the ... read more

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