California Wants to Suspend Uber in Attempt to Regulate Decentralized Services
Governments officials around the world are keeping a close eye on the decentralization revolution, both in the world of technology as well as in the daily lives of consumers. Popular decentralised services such as Uber have been around for quite some time, but they are starting to face a lot of opposition around the world. California could be the first US state to officially suspend Uber if they do not comply with the law.
Uber – Decentralized Car Sharing Faces Opposition in Europe
In recent months, Uber has been making headlines around the world, and not always in a positive manner either. Paris, the capital city of France, has taken quite the aggressive stance towards Uber, which has lead to Uber suspending its UberPop service in the entire country a few weeks ago.
After a few days of tension – most notably in the city of Paris – Uber has decided to suspend its Pop service, which links unlicensed and untrained private drivers with clients. Reports about UberPop drivers being attacked by taxi drivers was a cause of great concern, and Uber decided to protect “their” drivers” against further abuse.
The suspension of UberPop in France will remain in effect until the end of September, when France’s Constitutional Court is expected to rule on the UberPop service. Other Uber-related services are still operating as normal in France, and will remain to do for an unspecified amount of time.
In London, the financial capital of the world, Uber has seen great success in recent years as well. However, London-based Uber drivers will be forced to take an English and geography test in the near future. Having minicab drivers cruise around the city of London without any prior studies is unfair to black cab drivers, who have to go through four years of rigorous testing before receiving a license.
However, more regulatory measures are on the horizon for Uber drivers in London, including a possible limit on the total amount of minicab drivers allowed in the city at any given time. More detailed guidelines are expected to be released by the end of 2015, but no official data has been scheduled just yet.
California Forces Uber To Comply With The Law
When it comes to regulating decentralized services – whether it is Bitcoin, Airbnb or Uber – the United States take a more aggressive stance in some regards. Especially the state of California is putting the pressure on Uber, as the company is forced to comply with the state’s letter of the law, or face permanent suspension. Additionally, a fine of up to US$7.3m would have to be paid to the state of California.
California state officials have drafted up a law in 2013 that legalized ride halting services in the state. Part of the law requires ride halting service providers to hand over operational data – regarding requests for accessibility – to the California Public Utilities Commission. However, Uber’s Californian subsidiary Rasier-CA has failed to comply with that law to this very date.
Uber stated it handed over the required information to the California Public Utilities Commission, yet that officials asked for more specific information which would compromise the privacy of Uber users. According to the CPUC, companies such as Lyft and Sidecar have provided all requested information, and Uber refuses to do so.
Eva Behrend, a spokesperson for Uber, commented on the situation as follows:
“This ruling–and the associated fine–are deeply disappointing.We will appeal the decision as Uber has already provided substantial amounts of data to the California Public Utilities Commission, information we have provided elsewhere with no complaints. Going further risks compromising the privacy of individual riders as well as driver-partners. These CPUC requests are also beyond the authority of the Commission and will not improve public safety.”
Regulatory Measures for Decentralized Systems Are Difficult
It goes without saying that decentralized services such as Uber, Bitcoin, Airbnb and others are a legitimate threat to the financial ecosystem as we know it. Technology has been evolving at an accelerated pace over the past decade or so, and a lot of people are struggling to keep up with these changes. Some of them don’t want anything to do with technological innovation either, which isn’t helping matters at all.
When it comes to regulatory measures for decentralized services, applying traditional laws will simply not work. Our society is evolving and the paradigm of power is shifting from central authorities to the individual consumer, as it should be. Granted, there should be some form of regulatory framework in place for these new technological innovations, but they shouldn’t be based on outdated ways of thinking.
It will take quite some time until government officials turn the page of “old habits” and look at these technological innovations with a fresh of set eyes, and the respect it deserves. Until that day comes, the entire world will be stuck with new and innovative services they can or cannot sue, depending on their location.
Bitcoin is another decentralized project which is making many officials’ heads spin in terms of regulation and legislation. There is a huge need for cooperation between Bitcoin industry experts and government officials in these matters, as only by cooperation will we come to a framework that is acceptable for all parties involved.
What are your thoughts on the regulatory approach to decentralized services around the world? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Uber, Shutterstock