Backlash against Uber spreads from Chicago to Mumbai

December 10, 2014, 10:12 AM UTC
Indian residents hold placards and chant slogans as they take part in a protest against the alleged rape of a passenger by a driver working for the Uber taxi company in New Delhi on December 7, 2014. An Uber taxi driver allegedly raped a 25-year-old passenger in the Indian capital before threatening to kill her, police said December 7, in a blow to the company's safety-conscious image. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by AFP/Getty Images

The backlash against ride-sharing firm Uber Technologies Inc is spreading further, after authorities in Spain and Thailand ordered it to stop operations in their countries.

The orders came on the same day that San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey sued Uber for a number of alleged misdeeds including misrepresenting the quality of background checks it conducts on its drivers and illegally servicing airports.

The city of Portland, Oregon had filed suit against the company on Monday, just hours after it launched its service there, while the state of Nevada banned it last week. And Reuters reported Wednesday that Chicago police are also investing allegations that an Uber driver raped a female customer.

Meanwhile, the fallout from an alleged rape of an Uber passenger in New Delhi continues to reverberate across India, with state authorities in Maharashtra, the country’s most populous state, banning both it and Ola, a taxi aggregator backed by Japan’s Softbank.

Delhi banned Uber and all other alternatives to the city’s existing radio taxi companies Tuesday in reaction to the incident, a move that was criticized in some quarters as an attempt to deflect attention from failings in the local police service.

It emerged Wednesday that a police certificate attesting that the driver involved, Shiv Kumar Yadav, had no criminal record, was a fake. Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that such certificates are routinely bought from corrupt police officers for as little as $130.

In Europe, meanwhile, a Madrid judge ruled Tuesday that Uber must halt its service throughout Spain until a taxi association’s lawsuit challenging its right to operate is heard. That ruling follows trouble in both of Spain’s largest cities, Madrid and Barcelona, where local authorities are considering impounding Uber drivers’ vehicles and forcing them to pay €6,000 for their release.

Uber said in a statement that the ruling was “inconsistent with broad political acknowledgment in Spain and across the European Union on the benefits of sharing economy services.’’

The Spanish judge said Uber drivers lacked the necessary authorization to drive commercial vehicles and acted as unfair competition to the existing taxi industry. Similar arguments have been used in court rulings against the company in Germany, where one of Uber’s biggest competitive advantages lies in the fact that many drivers don’t pay for commercial insurance, its opponents claim.

A court in Paris is expected to deliver a key ruling on the company’s operations in France Friday.

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