Italy Bans Uber In Attempt To Defend The Business Of Taxi Drivers
Italian court has stopped fighting the taxi unions and instated a blanket ban on Uber in Italy. The decision came after widespread taxi union protests leaned on the government after an act of attempting to liberalize licensing laws to allow greater competition. This resulted in week-long protests which were violent at times and threatened to escalate into full riots the likes of which were raging through France recently.
The parliament gave in to the thousands of taxi drivers that took to the streets and withdrew the liberalization plan. Not only that, the courts have decided to ban Uber completely from Italy, preventing them from dosing business and even advertising nationwide. Uber was quick to announce their shock and plans to appeal to this decision based on a 25 year old law.
Namely, the ruling was using a law from 1992 as an excuse to regulate where and how taxi companies can make their bookings.
Now the government can’t waste more time and needs to decide whether it wants to remain anchored to the past, protecting privileged profits, or whether it wants to allow Italians to benefit from new technologies.
A spokesperson for Uber said: “We are shocked by the Italian court’s decision. Thousands of professional, licensed drivers use the Uber app to make money and provide reliable transportation at the push of a button for Italians.” It’s questionable if this pro-driver sentiment holds water because even though it’s currently human-operated, Uber is working hard towards automation and ridding themselves of having to pay the drivers.
The ban encompasses all of the offered services and Uber was given 10 days to form an appeal in order to evade paying up to $10,600 in fines every day it continues its business. The cab drivers claim that Uber represents unfair competition and the lawyers of the taxi unions are celebrating this victory as well, calling it: “the last battle of a legal battle started in 2015 to block the most striking form of unfair competition ever recorded on the Italian transport market.”
There is one other reason why Uber and the new push for liberalization was deemed so disruptively unfair. It’s because, unlike taxi drivers, the service users were able to purchase licenses in small towns where they are cheap and then operate in cities on those low-cost licenses.
And Italy is far from the only country that has suffered riots after Uber got into its market. London cab drivers have staged protests against the international service because the nature in which it operates allows the company to evade much of the tax owed to the state, and because it has to adhere to less strict regulation. France has seen violent riots, maybe the most violent of all.
As it currently stands it is not illegal to drive or use Uber, technically speaking. It’s illegal to use the app, pay with the app, advertise… basically everything except actually drive someone or be transported as a user of the service. Whether or not this will pay out in the long run… The law of the market says it’s highly unlikely. Japan is keeping their bureaucracy cluttered and unoptimized to employ people, but they are still working hard to find ways to mitigate the incoming automation/optimization apocalypse.
This move is just a band-aid in the long run and Italy, as well as the other countries, needs to find other ways to adapt to the times. Otherwise it’s going to hit them hard when it arrives full scale.