Uber Deemed Transport Service by EU Top Court Adviser

Uber Deemed Transport Service by EU Top Court Adviser

Uber provides a transport service and must be licensed, the European Union’s top court said on Thursday, in a potential blow to the US firm which says it is merely a digital enabler.

“The Uber electronic platform, whilst innovative, falls within the field of transport: Uber can thus be required to obtain the necessary licences and authorisations under national law,” the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) said.

While the opinion of the Advocate General is non-binding, the court’s judges follow it in most cases and a ruling would mean EU member states can regulate Uber and other such companies as a transport rather than “information society” service.

The case was brought by an association of Barcelona taxi drivers who argued that Uber engaged in unfair competition with its UberPOP service – which used unlicensed drivers.

Uber, which no longer operates UberPOP in Spain, said it would await a final ruling later this year, but added that even if it is considered a transportation company, this “would not change the way we are regulated in most EU countries as that is already the situation today”.

However, such a ruling would “undermine the much needed reform of outdated laws which prevent millions of Europeans from accessing a reliable ride at the tap of a button,” an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement.
Uber, which allows passengers to summon a ride through an app on their smartphones, expanded into Europe five years ago.

But it has been challenged in the courts by established taxi companies and some EU countries because it is not bound by strict local licensing and safety rules which apply to some of its competitors.

The Advocate General said Uber drivers “do not pursue an autonomous activity that is independent of the platform. On the contrary, that activity exists solely because of the platform, without which it would have no sense.”

Uber could not be regarded as a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers because it controlled economically important aspects of the urban transport service, Maciej Szpunar said in the opinion.

“The service amounts to the organisation and management of a comprehensive system for on-demand urban transport,” the ECJ statement said.



Delhi High Court Directs Ola, Uber to Charge Government Rates From August 22

Delhi High Court Directs Ola, Uber to Charge Government Rates From August 22

The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed app-based taxi aggregators, including Ola and Uber, not to charge more than government-fixed rates from its passangers from August 22.

Justice Manmohan gave 10 days to these aggregators to comply with the Delhi government’s 2013 policy, under which these cab companies were to charge fares prescribed by the Delhi Transport Department.

According to the government’s notification, the fares of economy taxis is Rs. 12.5 per km, for non-AC taxis Rs. 14 per km and for AC black and yellow-top taxis Rs. 16 per km. Additional night charge (25 percent of the fare) is applicable between 11pm and 5am.

The high court was hearing several cases related to surge pricing.

The court observed that while taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber reduce the pressure on public transport, “a uniform policy must be devised” for regulating them.

It directed a special committee, set up by the Centre to examine all issues related to existing permits given to taxis and cab aggregators, to also include one senior official each from the Ministry of Information Technology, Central Pollution Control Board and the Delhi Traffic Police apart from obtaining advise of a transport expert from the Niti (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog.

Tags: Apps, Cabs, Delhi, Ola, Ola Cabs, Uber



Court Deals Blow to Berlin’s Airbnb Ban

Court Deals Blow to Berlin's Airbnb Ban
An attempt by Berlin to clamp down on properties being rented out as holiday homes on Internet platforms like Airbnb suffered a setback on Tuesday as a court ruled in landlords’ favour.

The administrative court backed the claims of three homeowners, who had sued for the right to rent out their second homes in the German capital to tourists when they weren’t themselves staying there.

The same court had in June quashed a legal challenge to the law, which outlaws property owners and tenants from renting out whole apartments or houses for short-term holiday lets.

The ban still effectively prohibits primary residences from being advertised on Airbnb.

Tuesday’s decision had been keenly awaited as a further indication of how judges would view the new regulation.

Some landlords even received letters, seen by AFP, indicating that the city was waiting for a legal steer before proceeding against them.

In the case of the three landlords – who live in Rostock in northern Germany, Denmark, and Italy when not in Berlin – “private interest outweighs the public interest” in keeping the properties vacant, the judges said.
Berlin’s “wrongful use law”, in force since May 1, provides for fines of up to EUR 100,000 ($111,000) for people advertising their homes for Airbnb-style rentals without official authorisation.

Supporters of the law say increasing use of online rental platforms in Berlin – a tourism and party hotspot that draws visitors from all over Europe and beyond – is driving up property prices by taking large numbers of homes off the residential market.

Citizens can even report those they suspect of using an apartment for holiday rentals anonymously via the city government website.

In June 2015, the city also introduced a cap on rent price hikes in a bid to keep residential apartments affordable.

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Tags: Airbnb, Internet


Delhi High Court Seeks Centre’s Response on WhatsApp-Facebook Data Sharing

Delhi High Court Seeks Centre's Response on WhatsApp-Facebook Data Sharing

Delhi High Court Seeks Centre’s Response on WhatsApp-Facebook Data Sharing
WhatsApp updated its privacy policy earlier this month
It has, thus, stirred a controversy among the users
Delhi HC has asked govt. to submit replies by September 14
WhatsApp’s recent decision to share user data with parent company Facebook has reached the doorstep of the Delhi High Court, which sought the government’s response on the modification of the new privacy policy.

In a controversial move, the popular messaging platform has said it will begin “coordinating” accounts with Facebook by sharing users’ mobile phone numbers and device information with Facebook. It is, however, giving users a 30-day window to opt out of sharing their details.

(Also see: How to Stop WhatsApp From Sharing Your Details With Facebook)

The plans of WhatsApp – which has long promised to safeguard the privacy of more than 1 billion users — had rung alarm bells among privacy advocates.

Following a petition by two users, a High Court bench issued notice to the Centre, asking the concerned authorities to file their reply by September 14.
The petition had alleged that WhatsApp, Facebook Inc and Facebook India Online Private Limited’s new private policy “compromises the rights of its users”.

The current privacy policy is in “stark contrast” to the one from July 7, 2012, the petition read. The revised policy of August 25, 2016, “severely compromises the rights of its users and makes the privacy rights of users completely vulnerable,” the plea alleged.

The new policy, which is likely to come into force from September 25, has sought to change the “most valuable, basic and essential feature” of WhatsApp, the petition read.

It “unilaterally” threatened to “take away the protection to privacy of details and data of its users and sharing the same with Facebook and all its group companies including for the purpose of commercial advertising and marketing”.

Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocates Sandeep Sethi and Pratibha M Singh, called it a “very serious breach of policy”.

The manner of taking consent was “highly deceptive in as much as almost the entire community of users of WhatsApp in India are not equipped to even read, much less comprehend” the terms and conditions, they said.

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Tags: WhatsApp, Facebook, Apps, Privacy, Social, India