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Government Transportation

Uber Raided By Dutch Authorities, Seen As 'Criminal Organization' 471

An anonymous reader writes: Uber offices in Amsterdam have been raided by Dutch authorities, as reported by several local media sources (Google translation of original in Dutch). This follows intimidatory deterrence practices earlier in The Netherlands, with Uber drivers being fined in the past months, and fresh allegations that the company would act as a "criminal organization" by offering a platform for taxi rides without license (read: without the authorities earning money from the practice). Time for tech companies to consider moving their European offices elsewhere? Uber's lawyers must be incredibly busy. Proposed regulations in London would effectively end the company's service there, while the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said he would ban Uber's operations outright. They're receiving mixed messages from Australia — just a day after running afoul of regulations in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory is moving to legalize it.
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Uber Raided By Dutch Authorities, Seen As 'Criminal Organization'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:23AM (#50624801)

    It is currently not allowed to offer taxi services without a permit (and related stuff: insurance, markings on the car etc. depending on EU-country).
    Work to change the law before you start the business.

    There are lots of things you can't do without certification/permits/etc. If your plan is to fuck it all then you ARE working outside of the law. (car analogy: building your own car and not approving it - or in tax-insane Finland: paying car import tax on the burocrat-estimated worth of your self-built car).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:28AM (#50624823)

    Why the scare quotes around 'criminal organisation'? Uber's business model is to break the laws of every country they operate in and then hoping that the authorities are too timid to crack down on them. That by definition makes them a criminal organisation.

    Oh, and nice bit of LOLbertarian bias in the summary.

  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:33AM (#50624841) Homepage Journal

    In an attempt to cut through the bullshit of what *might* happen and work directly from evidence, I came across a report of [usnews.com] a Cato institute study:

    A Cato Institute study shows key differences between rideshare services and taxis, but passenger safety isn't one of them.

    The other differences are not as important and will probably get solved by other means. For example, cleanliness of the ride, courtesy of the driver, and gypping the customer can be handled by the Uber feedback system.

    The economists here are quick to point out the importance of liquidity, and Uber adds much needed liquidity to the taxi system.

    Can anyone justify the expense and bureaucracy of taxi medallions when passenger safety isn't an issue?

    • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @03:06AM (#50624959)

      The taxi medallion issue comes up frequently here on Slashdot, especially in support of Uber - except many countries dont have medallions or the costs associated with them. Here in the UK, to become a licensed taxi in my local area, it will cost you less than £3000 in fees every four years - wheres the excuse for Uber to be operating unlicensed in the same location?

    • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @03:29AM (#50625059)

      A Cato Institute study ...

      You can probably stop there. The Cato Institute was founded by Charles Koch and while it proposes to be solely Libertarian it often leans Right. Any "analysis" they perform must be taken with a grain of salt. I'm not saying they're wrong, but what they publish cannot be detached from their public and, more importantly, private agendas.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The Cato Institute was founded by Charles Koch and while it proposes to be solely Libertarian it often leans Right.

        Libertarianism means free markets, freedom of association, and individual liberties. Yes, in the US these days, that means "leaning right", because the American left has abandoned those principles. FFS, we have a self-declared socialist running as a serious Democratic candidate.

        I'm not saying they're wrong, but what they publish cannot be detached from their public and, more importantly, privat

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes and that is that taxis are part of a municipal areas public transport planning. It is taxi stands and rules against refusing a fare. It is fixed prices and centralised complaint procedures. It is holding them to a higher standard than a piss weak feedback system.

    • by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @03:46AM (#50625119) Homepage

      Can anyone justify the expense and bureaucracy of taxi medallions when passenger safety isn't an issue?

      Medallions are an outdated system that may have made sense at that time. However what we're talking about here (the examples of Ubers illegal practice in this article) isn't medallions. So no I, and I doubt many others, would even try and justify the medallion system but that doesn't mean that licensing on some level can't be justified on reasons beyond passenger safety.

      Some examples of things that it might be justified to control via licensing (other than passenger safety):
      Driver insurance
      Passenger insurance
      Pedestrian safety
      Emissions
      Traffic Control
      Availability of transport for the disabled/elderly
      Availability of transport to/from less popular locations
      Quality of service (especially in high tourist areas)

      I'm glad services like Uber exist as they bring more competition, but that doesn't mean that I agree with Uber's desire for an unregulated free for all.

    • It's not only about perceived safety from driver abuse, safe driving etc. Regulations are there -- at least in some european countries, like Germany for example -- to ensure a standard of operating safetey, both from technical and commercial point of view.

      For example, regulated taxis have stricter requirements with regards to technical maintenance. This is something you generally want! Just think about that for a moment: every time you take a ride, you're otherwise getting into some stranger's car, which

      • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
        I've been in many, MANY poorly-maintained taxis, often with egregious flaws. In one case a door came unlatched on a highway, in another case seat belts were visibly torn.

        I've yet to see an Uber car that is even close to this level of disrepair.
        • by henni16 ( 586412 )

          I've been in many, MANY poorly-maintained taxis, often with egregious flaws.

          In Germany, as was parent's example?
          Otherwise I would assume that there aren't such regulations/requirements or they aren't enforced.

          I've yet to see an Uber car that is even close to this level of disrepair.

          Give it 5-10 years or whenever the current Uber drivers have to get a new one.

          • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
            The unlatched door was in Paris and the torn seatbelt in New York. German taxis were generally above the US average.

            Give it 5-10 years or whenever the current Uber drivers have to get a new one.

            It doesn't work like this - Uber driver's car actually has to meet Uber's standards, a bad car will be quickly banned from the system. By now it's been two years since Uber got big and I don't see any deterioration in their car quality, and I use Uber a lot in different cities in several countries.

            • by dave420 ( 699308 )
              And that provides absolutely no benefit above the current German system. Not all the world has as terrible taxis as the US. I've never been in a poor German taxi - they're usually always recent Mercedes, clean, working well, and the drivers are well insured and well trained (including basic medical training). If Uber has found fault in any country's system, they should fix the system instead of stomping around like a petulant toddler demanding the whole world bows to its demands, screaming when they are t
    • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @04:24AM (#50625283)

      How about these requirements that taxi companies have to adhere to.
      - Availability of handicap accessible vehicles.
      - Minimum number of cars on the road.
      - Minimum wages for drivers.
      - Vehicle inspections. I know safety may not be an issue now but give it a few years when Uber drivers wear out their current cars but can not afford a new one.
      - The requirement to pick up anyone regardless of race, colour, gender, etc.
      - A company responsible for the behavior of the driver. Uber is not as they say their review system will handle it. It may in the long run by there is no one to make drivers clean up their act.
      Right now Uber is in a honeymoon state. Most of their drivers are happy and courteous. Wait about ten years when drivers have been jaded by low fares and bad customers. Then there will be even worse problems finding a cab. Today's regulations didn't just spring out of thin air. They were built up over years to deal with issues in the industry. Uber ignores those regulations and therefore their costs are lower.

      For example, cleanliness of the ride, courtesy of the driver, and gypping the customer can be handled by the Uber feedback system.

      It works until Uber gets too many complaints and they can not keep enough drivers on the road to service their customers. When making a choice between minor complaints and not enough drivers Uber will probably ignore the complaints.

    • by iserlohn ( 49556 )

      Liquidity is way overrated. This obsession with liquidity led to financial innovation like CDOs. Often a focus to increase liquidity mis-calculates risk and overlooks the trade-off.

      For a local transportation services, I'd prefer price consistency over a step-improvement in efficiency by liquidity measures like surge pricing. Dual-rate peak pricing is only acceptable because it is consistently applied at a fixed schedule.

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      The prices of a taxi medallion I've seen from the US don't seem to apply to the Netherlands.

      "In Boston, taxi medallions average $700,000, and similarly-inflated prices exist in other cities"
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/sc... [forbes.com]

      But Amsterdam is the most expensive and I believe far above every other city in the Netherlands:
      In 2013: € 7.960,00 for 3 years (8,928.64 USD)
      In 2014: € 11.880,00 for 3 years (13,327.58 USD)

      The city claims that this is the real cost of what they need to do (whatever that is).

      In

    • Can anyone justify the expense and bureaucracy of taxi medallions when passenger safety isn't an issue?

      Yes - traffic congestion. According to Uber's own study [streetsblog.org], Uber operations in central Manhattan have decreased average traffic speeds for all vehicles by 8%.

  • wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:36AM (#50624847)
    "Time for tech companies to consider moving their European offices elsewhere?"

    how about, Time for tech companies to stop thinking local laws don't fucking apply to them. Either obey the law, fight to get the laws changed or get the fuck out of the market. NO company should get to decide what laws they will and won't obey, that is a slippery slope that no one wants to be on.
    • Re:wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:42AM (#50624871)

      This, and how about Uber stop calling itself a tech company just because it brought out an app, and start calling itself a goddamn taxi company?

    • How about, Time for tech companies to stop thinking local laws don't fucking apply to them. Either obey the law, fight to get the laws changed or get the fuck out of the market.

      How about, "Time for taxi drivers to stop posting drivel and stop using "fuck" in every sentence?

      The basis of law is justice. When laws are seen to be unjust, they are often struck down through the efforts of concerted civil disobedience. Prime examples are Rosa Parks not moving to the back of the bus, Martin Luthor's sit-ins, and the Boston Tea Party.

      There, see that above? The section in bold? That's called an argument.

      An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

      You

      • Re:An argument (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @03:04AM (#50624953)
        COMPANIES have no right to commit civil disobedience, only individuals can do that. For a company that just makes them a criminal organization.
      • Re:An argument (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @03:11AM (#50624987)
        that is a fallacious argument. You have incorrectly associated an individuals right to civil disobedience with the rights of a company. A company is not a citizen and as such it cannot commit civil disobedience. The world would be a very bad place if companies got to decide on laws, companies don't have the individual consequences associated with civil disobedience.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          that is a fallacious argument. You have incorrectly associated an individuals right to civil disobedience with the rights of a company. A company is not a citizen and as such it cannot commit civil disobedience. The world would be a very bad place if companies got to decide on laws, companies don't have the individual consequences associated with civil disobedience.

          Hmm...

          So by that logic, the New York Times shouldn't have published the Pentagon Papers [wikipedia.org], and the Guardian shouldn't have published Edward Snowden's [wikipedia.org] revelations.

          Both of which were classified at the time.

          • Re:An argument (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @03:30AM (#50625063)
            So you jump from one fallacious argument to another one to try and justify the behavior. Freedom of the press is not the same as civil disobedience which is not the same as a company ignoring laws.
            • Freedom of the press is not the same as civil disobedience which is not the same as a company ignoring laws.

              Point of order: there are no federal shield laws for journalists in the U.S.. Just because there is freedom of the press written into the bill of rights, does not mean that you can not be held legally accountable for what you print.

              The common argument is "yelling 'fire!' in a crowded theater", which is commonly misinterpreted as stating that the yelling itself is illegal; it is not, it is protected by "freedom of speech"; the consequences *may* however be something you can have your ass thrown into jail ov

        • by Malc ( 1751 )

          The world would be a very bad place if companies got to decide on laws

          Isn't this precisely what people are suggesting some of the provisions in the TTIP deal will allow, where corporations will be able to sue governments despite their democratic mandate?

      • Martin Luthor's

        ... brother Lex was always the naughty one.

      • Again Rosa Parks openly admitted that what she did was illegal. She didn't do it for profit. And she was willing to go to jail. If Uber did those three things (with the execs going to jail, not the drivers), you would have a point. Rosa Parks acted to improve society. Uber acts to improve their bottom line. The two are not comparable in any way.
  • by ebusinessmedia1 ( 561777 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:37AM (#50624853)
    What doesn't Uber understand about municipal codes? Yes, taxi service sucks, but just because I think I want to get to work faster doesn't mean I can break the speed limit. We have laws for a reason; if Uber wants to compete,it has to compete according to the LAW. If it wants to change the law, the ballot is where that should happen. After all, Uber is lining the pockets of politicians now, anyway - to let them help Uber break the law. It's absurd.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Dutch Taxis don't suck, it's a well regulated market, they're clean, consistent and safe.They're also well integrated into the public transport system. And Netherlands has a bunch of laws you have to comply with.

      Uber has its own rules, and its own codes, and surge pricing and fake maps and god view spy app, and so on, and none of this fits in within the laws of the Netherlands.

      There are car sharing companies that comply with Dutch law, e.g. GreenWheels is all across Holland. Uber just needs to stop behaving

      • by ziphnab ( 530212 )
        I agree. When I compare the actual service I get in the average taxi compared to before 2000 (when the current regulation was instated) things have improved markedly, at least here in Amsterdam. It's expensive, but then, it always was, even before the current regulations, at least now there's some associated costs that justify the price.
  • by msh104 ( 620136 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:39AM (#50624863)

    In the Netherlands we mostly have a mix of semi free market and government regulation.
    The government sets the ground rules and free competition is possible within that platform.

    Taxi drivers have to obey by many strict laws. Uber "taxis" do not.
    The current position of the government is that Uber poses unfair competition as Uber users do not comply with the regulation required for Taxi drivers while essentialy offering the same services.

    Technically, if Uber can make their drivers comply to the Taxi driver rules the app would be no problem.
    Much of the advantage would be lost in the process though..
    And it's a bit of a killer for innovation and keeps prices high.
    Personally i like the sharing culture Uber promotes.
    But i don't think the attitude towards Uber taxis will change anytime soon.

    • by ziphnab ( 530212 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @04:25AM (#50625289) Homepage

      Personally i like the sharing culture Uber promotes. But i don't think the attitude towards Uber taxis will change anytime soon.

      And you might change that opinion if you are ever in an accident while being a passenger in an Uber 'taxi' and it turns out he's missing all the liability insurance that are requisite for any form of public transport company in the netherlands and it turns out his personal insurance doesn't cover 'professional services' as every consumer car insurance policy in the Netherlands does.

    • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @04:32AM (#50625301)

      Personally i like the sharing culture Uber promotes.

      Uber is "ride sharing" in the same way pizza delivery is "food sharing". Namely it is not. With Uber you hire a vehicle and driver to take you from one location to another. There is no "sharing" involved. Sharing would be if the driver planned to go from A to B and picked up someone else who happened to be going the same way. For example, many non-profit commuter services are ride sharing as do just that. That is not what Uber does.Being an Uber driver is a part time job and nothing else.

      • by Malc ( 1751 )

        Yes, in most cases ride sharing is free at best or the cost of it is shared equitably. Uber drivers are in it for a profit and make a living from this, which is a totally different concept.

    • The Netherlands have taxi laws because every time we tried deregulating taxis, the deregulated taxi services cropping up were a bunch of criminals who wouldn't balk at overcharging and intimidating and/or assaulting their passengers and other drivers.

  • by Rick in China ( 2934527 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:46AM (#50624889)

    ...in some countries. They're openly breaking the law. However - where regulations are faulty or problematic hampering the freedom of providing a valued service to the populace, this type of disruption is the only way to drive forward new growth markets and change 'the way' it is. Just because something is averse to a current corporate/government structure doesn't make it bad, although it is in many cases criminal.

    I'd be curious about stats of Uber users - is it just a loud minority who aim their sites at the company? I'm guessing it is. Everyone I know who uses Uber loves it, and while I feel for the taxi drivers who pay into medallions or permits to drive cabs, markets....get.....disrupted......and this is a f'n good disruption.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @02:49AM (#50624905)

    Ueber likes to promote itself as a happy camper ride along service, but is morphing more and more into a global taxi sweatshop.

    No longer is it just take on somebody for a ride, but exploiting legal loopholes to employ taxi drivers without any benefits, dodging taxes etc, and keep full control over them.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Ueber likes to promote itself as a happy camper ride along service, but is morphing more and more into a global taxi sweatshop.

      That's jut the PR wearing off. It never was anything other than a cheapskate taxi service.

  • " (read: without the authorities earning money from the practice)" no that is called breaking the law. You may not like the law, but it is the law.Work to have it repelled or Stuff up. Break the law ? Then get what's coming at you. How worked up would you be if companies started seeing EPA or FDA rules as "stuff the authorities made up for earning money from the practice" ? Like for example checking for salmonella in peanut butter and withdrawing it from circulation if contaminated ? Same difference, the du
  • by denzacar ( 181829 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @03:56AM (#50625159) Journal

    and fresh allegations that the company would act as a "criminal organization" by offering a platform for taxi rides without license (read: without the authorities earning money from the practice)

    Nice one there.

    Get the anti-gubermint crowd by emphasizing the criminal organization definition of Uber.
    (YEAH! Fuck you Holland and your German laws! You don't get to decide what constitutes a legal definition of a criminal organization in your country!).

    Then get the pro-regulation crowd by insinuating that paying taxes, tariffs etc. and submitting to regulation is somehow just a legal racket by "the authorities".
    (YEAH! Fuck you regulatory gubermint bodies! I WANT to live in a Blade Runner-like dystopia. Minus the tech, replicants, flying cars, Vangelis soundtrack and unicorns.)

    It's almost as if both the "anonymous reader" and Soulskill love watching their mom being double-teamed so much they just can't get the idea of getting it both ways out of their head.
    What? It's a flamebait story and topic.
    Decorum and protocol dictate the mention of management's and submitters Nazi whore mothers.

  • Common Carriers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @04:09AM (#50625203) Journal

    We've all been through it - can't get a cab. It's sometime AM, you need a cab and the driver refuses to take you. From my understanding of 'Common Carrier' law it is illegal for them to refuse a fare, just as much as it is illegal for Uber to operate.

    Taxi operations are used to having all of the power and now that Uber has come along (despite some minor reservations I have with the service) I'm glad they are kicking the Taxi industries ass. I've noticed that now Taxis have improved their service because Uber is here.

    I suspect that once Uber is gone - Taxi services will become much worse. If Uber is going to be banned then I would like to see the penalties for the Taxi industry increase because if they did what they were supposed to do, then Uber would not exist.

  • It's so sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Roodvlees ( 2742853 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2015 @04:12AM (#50625223)
    Government has been struggling and failing miserably to organize taxi's in a decent way for so long. Now a great way to organize comes along and what do they do? Makes you think all that struggling was just to sell taxi licenses. The best solution would obviously be to buyback all the licenses and let everybody work through an Uber-like system. But that would cost money...
  • Why should they be allowed to not pay taxes?

  • This comes the same day as Amazon announces an Uber like service for package deliveries to the home. Want something from Wall Mart? It will be waiting for the Uber driver to deliver it to your door.
    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      Amazon Flex won't release their contract. My email exchange with them resulted in this reply:

      "When you come to our onboarding session and download the app, you can review the Terms of Service. "

      Why should I make any sort of commitment before seeing the contract? What if I have to sign an NDA so I canot share the information? They could easily post it on their website, after all they are a tech company. I feel like they do not want to deal on a level playing field with me.

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