back to article Uber is a taxi company, not internet, European Court of Justice advised

Uber is really a transport company, not an internet company, in official advice given to the European Court of Justice. If it's followed by the court, the opinion will have significant impact on horizontally integrated platforms operating in Europe that present themselves as intermediaries and thus bypass many regulations. …

  1. Locky Silver badge

    But

    Are Jaffa Cakes biscuits?

    1. Justicesays

      Re: But

      Well, no, they are cakes, in the UK at least, under the LON/91/0160 decision of the VAT tribunal.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. The Nazz Silver badge

          Re: But

          Fancy that .....

          I'm a cake when an attractive woman appears but a biscuit when she walks on by.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: But

            > I'm a cake when an attractive woman appears

            That's probably the most successful way to make them fancy you. :-)

            1. imanidiot Silver badge

              Re: But

              Cake or death?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: But

                > Cake or death?

                She might want you to drop dead, but she still won't fancy you if you do. On the other hand she might fancy cake. :-)

    2. wolfetone Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: But

      "Are Jaffa Cakes biscuits?"

      Oh for f**ks sake don't start that again.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But

      Yes there cakes hence why not called Jaffa Biscuits

      1. Not also known as SC

        Re: But

        Why has this "Yes there cakes hence why not called Jaffa Biscuits" got down votes? It seems a perfectly sensible, and very El Reg type comment. Unless it's the use of "there" instead of "they're"...

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: But

          Maybe the DV's from us Americans? We don't know the difference between what you chaps call "biscuits" (I thought they're cookies in the States), cakes, or meringues.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: But

            We don't know the difference between what you chaps call "biscuits" (I thought they're cookies in the States)

            No - their biscuits are more akin to our scones (except usually, not sweet and more stodgy).

            Their dish "biscuits and gravy" is sort of like a cross between dumplings and scones in a gravy meat sauce.

    4. DontFeedTheTrolls
      Coat

      Re: But

      Is that a cake or a meringue?

      (I suspect only a small portion of the readership will get this)

      1. AndyS

        Re: But

        > Is that a cake or a meringue?

        No yer right, it's a cake.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: But

        Is that a cake or a meringue?

        Yes.

    5. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Cakes or biscuits?

      You're still on that? According to XKCD it's the definition of a sandwich which is where it's at.

  2. R3sistance

    Finally some common sense

    Why has it taken so long to declare Uber a taxi service, it is CLEARLY a taxi service. You use the app to hail a car that picks you up from point A to point B, this isn't a coworker picking you up (ride-sharing), there is a monetary transfer for the service of transportation and that car wasn't going to make that journey if you didn't order it. Now as Uber is a taxi company, all Uber drivers should be required to have the relevant licenses/permits for being taxi drivers for the relevant country. Yes this will drive Uber prices up, this is because they are using drivers who should not be taxi drivers to push prices down and undersell local and legal taxi companies/operators.

    1. Mark 110 Silver badge

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Only way I could see it not being a taxi company was if taxi companies could use Uber to get bookings. Which they can't. And Uber didn't employee its own drivers. Which it does.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Finally some common sense

        Only way I could see it not being a taxi company was if taxi companies could use Uber to get bookings. Which they can't.

        That's not quite true. Uber does cut dispatching deals with local taxi companies when it suits them. For example in Berlin, where uber's usual racket is verboten, using a uber app to call for a ride will get you a regular taxi. The price will be the regular taxi fare, plus couple of euros on top going to uber for dispatching your request.

        I can see where a visitor might find this a good deal - the local taxi companies apps do exist, but are rather crap, while calling for a taxi over the phone may be problematic if your german is none too good plus you do not quite know where you are and how to get where you want to be (Berlin has a lot of streets with identical names in different parts of the city, so you better remember either the postcode or the distruct name!)

        1. Mark 110 Silver badge

          Re: Finally some common sense

          Interesting. I didn't know they ran that model. Blurs the lines.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Seem to be unnecessarily complicated arguments. Surely it's simple - a taximeter cabriolet uses a meter to calculate the charge paid to the 'cabbie' by the passenger. Uber calculates a fare using an electronic meter (to work out miles x rate) and a clock meter to calculate the time charge. Plus extras. The fact the meter uses electrons rather than cogs really doesn't change anything. Very few Uber vehicles are horse-drawn these days either, which is what a cabriolet originally was.

      Oh yes, and 'hailing' a cab with a programme on a phone isn't fundamentally different to waving your umbella at the side of the street.

      If it quacks like a...

      I'm amazed they've been able to get away with this for so long. One is minded to wonder whether they have felt the need to 'employ' any local politicians.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Finally some common sense

        >I'm amazed they've been able to get away with this for so long. One is minded to wonder whether they have felt the need to 'employ' any local politicians.

        It's not about politicians; it's about lawyers and they absolutely love this shit. The application of law isn't based on right and wrong; it's based on the statute and the precedent set by past cases.

        In this case there isn't a law that says you're not allowed to start an internet company which provides taxi services. There are plenty of laws which state that if you start a taxi company you have to abide by the law set for taxi companies. Uber's defence is that they aren't a taxi company and this is what is being challenged.

        Now of course, this is the first time this has happened so there are no past cases to reference, which is why this has ultimately been progressed up through the various levels of courts to the ECJ.

        Once a ruling has been made, and assuming there are no further avenues for appeal, this will become the test case and will hopefully set the bar for internet companies providing a service and pretending that they're not.

        What I struggle to understand is why this is any different from a drug overlord saying I never touched any of the drugs and all the money I got was gifts from people who liked me. But the law is very specific and it's always possible to argue that two examples aren't the same. It's what lawyers do.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Yes clearly Uber is a taxi service. Their problem is they want to be a taxi service without abiding by any of the rules or regulations that govern being a taxi service - criminal background checks for drivers, fare tariffs, limits on number of licenced cars on the road, vehicle safety checks, adequate insurance, employment benefits, other regulations governing public transportation.

      So they want to pretend they're basically just a hookup service between people who want a lift and people prepared to give them a lift.

      I'm glad they're losing. They should abide by the rules laid down for taxis or gtfo.

      1. B Candler

        Re: Finally some common sense

        Their problem is they want to be a taxi service without abiding by any of the rules or regulations that govern being a taxi service - criminal background checks for drivers, fare tariffs, limits on number of licenced cars on the road, vehicle safety checks, adequate insurance, employment benefits, other regulations governing public transportation.

        Don't forget that all the drivers must already adhere to standards - at least in the UK they need to be licensed.

        So the question as to whether "Uber is a hail-a-cab (taxi) service" or "Uber is a minicab (private hire vehicle) service" is a side issue here. In both cases the drivers themselves *are* regulated and licensed, albeit under different regulations.

        What the legal opinion seems to be saying is that if you contact Uber, ask for a ride, and pay them, then Uber is providing some sort of transportation service, not an introduction agency. This seems a rare and remarkable victory for common sense.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Finally some common sense

          "Don't forget that all the drivers must already adhere to standards - at least in the UK they need to be licensed."

          In the US, taxi drivers must have a commercial license with an an endorsement for carrying passengers. They must also hold commercial insurance as all private insurance policies do not cover any commercial transportation activities.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Finally some common sense

        So they want to pretend they're basically just a hookup service between people who want a lift and people prepared to give them a lift.

        So they're saying that they are basically pimps then but use free-lancers instead of "owned".

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Why has it taken so long to declare Uber a taxi service

      Lobbying. That is a polite way of describing it.

    5. HAL-9000

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Couldn't agree more, and as a taxi service that it very clearly is, should be subject to all the regulation and conform to the public protections that other taxi services abide by.

      Good 1 Evil 0

    6. Philip Lewis

      Re: Finally some common sense

      Denmark KO'ed Uber recently for being a taxi company and incompatible with the latest revision of the taxi law (which might have been a stitch up, I wasn't following too closely).

      http://www.dr.dk/nyheder/penge/uber-lukker-i-danmark

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next you'll be telling me Snap isn't a "Camera company", and North Korea isn't a "democratic people's republic".

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Any country name with the words 'People' and 'Democratic' means exactly the opposite. There are/were more than just NK...

      1. mr.K

        "Any country name with the words 'People' and 'Democratic' means exactly the opposite."

        Does this also apply to countries with "great" in them?

        1. Stuart Moore

          And to "United" right now...

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            "And to "United" right now..."

            Which side of the pond are you on. Oh wait. . .

        2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: countries with "great" in them?

          This provides the answers:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNu8XDBSn10

  4. Alien Doctor 1.1

    I am really...

    going to miss the common sense rulings the EU have provided in many areas of life and business; I hate to think what protections we are going to lose in human rights, consumer rights and environmental issues in a couple of years - I don't trust any of our politicians to give a damn about non-law makers.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: I am really...

      Are you moving to USA, or live in UK?

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: I am really...

      It's not that politicians don't give a damn about non-law makers, it's that they do give several damns about their rich friends and supporters, who are pissed off by having to be nice to butterflies, not pour shit in the river, and give servants holidays and wages.

      And when it comes to polling day, the little sheep read the Daily Heil and go and do as they're told again.

      When will it sink in to people's minds that voting Tory is a mortal sin, and anyone who does will burn in the fires of hell for all eternity?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am really...

        "When will it sink in to people's minds that voting Tory is a mortal sin"

        I don't think Labour are any better, just those involved with Greenpeace, PETA and CND will be beneficiaries, not the general public.

        Choose the party* least likely to screw you over and vote for them.

        *Why the hell most people still choose the same old pair, especially for local elections, then moan constantly about them is beyond me. IMO if we banned political parties and only had independents, things may be a whole lot better.

        1. Floydian Slip
          Coat

          Voting tactically might be a mistake

          It's worth commenting on the whole "vote tactically" debate.

          Tactics only look to the short term, strategy looks at the longer term and that's where we should be looking if we want to live in a competitive economy in a dog-eat-dog world.

          Remember - if you vote tactically you might win the battle. If you vote strategically you will win the war

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Voting tactically might be a mistake

            >Remember - if you vote tactically you might win the battle. If you vote strategically you will win the war

            Fuck that. If voting tactically helps prevent the old cunts salting the earth for future generations while they continue to live in their big houses on their fat pensions then I'm voting tactically.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Voting tactically might be a mistake

            "Remember - if you vote tactically you might win the battle. If you vote strategically you will win the war"

            Not necessarily. Don't forget the old phrase "missing the forest for the trees." You actually need to vote BOTH strategically AND tactically at the same time because ignoring either one could make you lose the war (because giving up in the short-term could render the long-term goal unreachable). That's one reason long-term voting in legislatures is so difficult. The short-term pain it could entail could result in the government being voted out: a practical example of a short-term loss undoing a long-term goal.

          3. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: Voting tactically might be a mistake

            "Tactics only look to the short term, strategy looks at the longer term"

            Does that mean "tactical flashlight" really just means "short battery life"...?

          4. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Voting tactically might be a mistake

            Tactics only look to the short term, strategy looks at the longer term

            Strategy is where you want to be, tactics is how you get there. And logistics is what you do it with :-)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I am really...

          "I don't think Labour are any better, just those involved with Greenpeace, PETA and CND will be beneficiaries, not the general public."

          Pen-y-gors would have had an upvote from me, until that last paragraph, trying to make out that all other parties are somehow more saintly than the Tories.

          Having worked alongside an RMT rep at a part-public, part-private owned transport concern, the people who will be even greater beneficiaries will be RMT reps. The person in question already used paid working hours to go to political events that weren't about transport, but no-one dared complain: I can't see Mr Corbyn moving to stop that kind of thing, any more than I can see UKIP moving to force people to repay any funds accepted from the EU while fighting against it.

        3. Paul 129
          Flame

          Re: I am really...

          "If we banned political parties and only had independents, things may be a whole lot better."

          NO!

          They'd be different, not better. First past the post voting generates two party systems, so the polling system would need to be changed. The media tries to betray the political class as hopelessly out of touch with the real people, purely for their own agenda (ratings, attack money, personal political leanings). The good politicians don't want to be out of touch, they want to talk to everyone, and fix issues.

          We NEED MORE good, listening politicians. We need to LISTEN in return.

          The best way to do this is to GET INVOLVED!

          Here we are farting electrons. Talking to your local rep or being at your local branch, you are being heard.

          It doesn't take much.

          There is no point complaining about a dead body on your front door step with no blood and a suspicious set of holes.

          Talk to people, build your community and storm the castle!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

        If you fall for the Tory/Labour tribalism, you are the problem. They are all liar politicians, I'm with the ancient Greeks (IIRC), those that seek public office should be barred from public office.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

          Then how do they find proper candidates without interfering with their lives? Pulling a farmer from his fields or some other worker from the job he/she depends on to sustain a living is generally seen as a Bad Thing. What options do you have when the ONLY people willing to take on the job ARE those who seek public office?

          1. Mephistro Silver badge

            Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now? (@ Charles 9)

            "What options do you have when the ONLY people willing to take on the job ARE those who seek public office?"

            A well designed Demarchy would fit here.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now? (@ Charles 9)

              Isn't that an oxymoron, though, which is why it's never happened for very long in recorded history?

            2. handleoclast Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: Demarchy

              I had to look this one up. First result included a Wizard of ID cartoon.

              Lackey: "I've just uncovered a plot to underthrow the government."

              King: "You mean overthrow."

              Lackey: "No, they say they can't throw it far enough."

              Yes, demarchy solves some problems. Introduces others.

              1) It might give better results for the country as a whole, but if it happened to pick you then would you be happy? If you ran a business, a four-year gap might screw it thoroughly. If you were in a good position in IT, the four-year gap and consequent lack of current knowledge/experience would hamper your chances of getting an equivalent position afterwards. People try to evade a few weeks of jury duty for similar reasons...

              2) Foreseeing that it might be hard to get a job as good as the one you had before serving in government, would you be tempted to fuck things up so badly that there had to be a new lottery after a couple of weeks?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Demarchy

                Doing a couple of terms on the local council certainly killed off all and any prospects of future employment for me. In the last seven years I've had 24 months work. I'm rapidly approaching 50 which will kill off for good any further employment prospects.

                When people interested in standing for election ask me for advice, I now reluctabtly tell them to avoid it like the plague unless you have the resourses to never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever need to rely on obtaining money in order to say alive.

          2. PickledAardvark

            Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

            In response to criticism that electoral candidates don't represent the population, some UK political parties offer support to those who have families and lives to get on with. I'd go so far as to say that all mainstream parties know that candidates in target seats struggle; a number of presumed candidates have already pulled out.

            Standing for election in a hopeless seat is a demanding job. When in a winnable seat, it's ten times worse. Candidates are expected to be available immediately for the press and party, and to be business co-owners, co-workers, parents and carers. As I wrote earlier, parties are aware of the dilemma and some people try to ease the load.

            It is a lot easier for a lad or lass with no big responsibilities to stand as an MP. But we may be better served by those who struggled -- with help from friends.

        2. graeme leggett

          Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

          Perhaps that's why the Spartans had two kings...

          ....plus a massive subservient helot class

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

          those that seek public office should be barred from public office.

          "To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

          To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

        4. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

          "I'm with the ancient Greeks (IIRC), those that seek public office should be barred from public office."

          Actually, exactly as here, Athenian democracy was subverted by the rich. Socrates was given the choice of death or exile because his teachings were perceived as supporting aristocratic government. And Alcibiades was a very Tony Blair like figure.

          But what may not be understood nowadays is that Athenian society was very regressive in some ways - Athenian women with any pretensions to respectability stayed at home and were veiled in public, and the lower classes didn't get to vote. Many of the leading Greek pre-scientists weren't Athenian. Archimedes lived in Syracuse, which was a nasty dictatorship. Pythagoras lived in a whole lot of places. Euclid lived in what is now Egypt.

          If you think of a society in which the readers of The Times and The Telegraph got the option to exile anybody they didn't like and were selected for all the top jobs by a lottery, you're getting there.

          I mention this because harking back to classical Greece is a terrible way to come up with political arguments. Which is why even Oxford decided that perhaps Greats (the classics) wasn't perhaps the best training for our future lords, and introduced PPE. Which has been about equally successful.

          1. old_IT_guy

            Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

            Progressive and Regressive are relative terms, in the context of their time Athens was Progressive, not Regressive.

            It could perhaps be argued that they should be considered Regressive in the context of the modern era, but then you'd have to state where in the world you are taking as your baseline as well.

            It is only in relation to "the west" in the modern era that you may be able to claim Athenian society was regressive, and then some will still argue with you.

            1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

              "Progressive and Regressive are relative terms, in the context of their time Athens was Progressive, not Regressive."

              Perhaps I used to wrong word there. I meant that, unlike the Spartan aristocracy where men and women had a high degree of equality, Athens retained a model in which women were, essentially, property. In the Iliad and the Odyssey this attitude is very clearly expressed - men could even sacrifice their own daughters to the gods, and Odysseus feels it within his rights to kill all his female household servants who have had sex with the suitors. There was a small class of hetairai, but the question of their status is still argued. Would the Peloponnesian Wars have gone on so long if Athens had adopted a more Spartan approach? Certainly reigning half your population to domestic duties wasn't exactly a progressive idea even by the standards of the time.

        5. Dave Schofield

          Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

          I think Mark Thomas had the best idea in one of his routines - People in elected office should be taken outside and shot at the end if their five years term. We'd either get complete nutters or extreme altruists. Either would be a big improvement on what we've got now.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

            Nah, you just end up with a coup as the people in power shoot the shooters and seize power to avoid being shot.

            1. The Nazz Silver badge

              Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

              Re Charles 9

              Rather like Turkey?

              One of the better reasons for Brexit.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

                "Rather like Turkey?

                One of the better reasons for Brexit."

                And that's why I say the laws in the end are just ink on a page. If you can amass enough power, you can ignore those laws and replace them with your own.

          2. Naselus

            Re: Remind me again what the ex-labour cabinet are doing now?

            "I think Mark Thomas had the best idea in one of his routines - People in elected office should be taken outside and shot at the end if their five years term. "

            Actually, that could work. Assemble the firing squad at random from the whole non-mad, non-criminal population, and then specify that there's no penalties from killing the politico, but they don't have to do so. A popular politician who governed fairly would find that most people tried to miss him. A politician who targeted specific groups for unfair treatment, on the other hand...

      3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: I am really...

        @Pen-y-gors

        "When will it sink in to people's minds that voting Tory is a mortal sin, and anyone who does will burn in the fires of hell for all eternity?"

        I should have clarified - voting Tory is a MORTAL sin, voting Labour (or at least for the least bad candidates) is only a VENAL sin, still worthy of quite a few years in Purgatory. Obviously UKippers are damned in this world as well, and LibDems? Write out fifty times "I must not waste my vote". Those nice Greens though, and SNP and PC, well, go straight to Heaven, do not pass Go.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I am really...

          Those nice Greens though, and SNP and PC, well, go straight to Heaven, do not pass Go.

          Well, we've got a Greenpeace approved energy policy, and that's not working so well is it? Only another decade of 10% a year price rises before the books balance, eh?

          On the subject of PC and SNP, do feel free to become independent. If those living in England had a vote, I'd support both Scottish and Welsh independence, although I'm not sure what your economy would be based upon.

        2. collinsl

          Re: I am really...

          And obviously those who don't vote are in trouble too because they are choosing to throw away their chance of having a say, so who's left?

          If the Lib Dems are a waste of a vote in England then who's left? The independent candidates? They've got no hope of winning, just the same as all the other little parties. So they're wasted votes too.

        3. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: I am really...

          As far as UKIP is concerned, there is a good solution. UKIP wants net zero immigration. So for every immigrant entering the UK, one UKIP voter should leave. Problem solved.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I am really...

          LibDems? Write out fifty times "I must not waste my vote".

          Have you forgotten who it was who stopped the Snoopers Charter being passed into law? As soon as the Tories got a majority, it was pushed through.

    3. Random Handle

      Re: I am really...

      >going to miss the common sense rulings the EU have provided in many areas of life and business

      UK will still be bound by them in the main post-Brexit, though there will doubtless be a few token gestures for the sake of political posturing.

      Article 50 and the recently publishing EU Commission negotiation guidelines have the ECJ hard-coded for Brexit and post-Brexit dispute resolution - so in trade/governmental matters it will continue to bind UK regulations and law for many years - without the inconvenience of having British judicial representation in the court.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Uber goes under

    Over its overhyped , underhand business description.

  6. P. Lee Silver badge

    While I like the reasoning, does it hold up?

    Are uber drivers beholden to uber or can they also work for lyft? (I don't know) If they can, then they would be economically independent from Uber.

    "the provider supplies the whole service... so that the two services form an inseparable whole..." is that different from any employment agency going out to market via its website and saying, "I know of a network admin you can have at $x/day. Let me know if you want me to send him for an interview and I'll take a cut of the final payments"?

    Its late and I haven't thought it through, but what seem obvious doesn't always turn out to be so.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Are uber drivers beholden to uber or can they also work for lyft? (I don't know) If they can, then they would be economically independent from Uber."

      The point being if they use the Uber app, they ARE beholden to Uber. They may be able to switch apps, but the paychecks come from the provider, NOT from the passenger. The fare rates come from the app, NOT from the drivers. If the passenger paid the driver directly at a mutually-agreed rate, and then Uber and Lyft were to BILL them for services rendered in matchmaking, that would be a whole other story, and I believe this is true for apps that legitimate cab companies use (like App-A-Cab) to matchmake.

      " is that different from any employment agency going out to market via its website and saying, "I know of a network admin you can have at $x/day. Let me know if you want me to send him for an interview and I'll take a cut of the final payments"?"

      Thing is, the temporary or contracted employee normally has to already comply with whatever regulations are attendant with his/her position. Employment agencies can't just pluck any old Tom, Dick, and Harry out of the street and farm them out as network admins or constructions workers or whatever.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        like App-A-Cab

        ObThreadCross: I thought that wasn't anywhere?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Oh... (blushes)

          Turns out what I'm talking about is unique to my area.

          But it DOES exist: http://www.appacab.us/

  7. PickledAardvark

    Try setting up a bank like Uber

    PayPal originally modelled itself as an internet payments agency. PayPal took the buyer's money, deducted a charge and passed the remainder to the seller. It didn't take long for banks and bank monitors to get worried -- about loss of income or fraud for banks, about money laundering for monitors. Today PayPal operates by the same rules as traditional banks or currency transfer agencies.

    Uber gets away with its business models -- slightly different according to location -- because it rarely faces a big foe. Uber runs away when they see that courts are against them. Uber attacks when it sees opportunity. But it is just a taxi or private hire car rental business.

    Uber's neat twist -- at the beginning -- was to brand itself as "car sharing". Like picking up a mate on the way to work and exchanging some petrol money. Few people looked at why Uber was set up -- to sell time in expensive private hire cars, then in less expensive cars.

    Uber is what it is -- a taxi or private hire car rental outfit, like PayPal is a regulated financial transfer agent.

    There is a lot of potential money to be made by connecting customers with independent car hire operators. I am sure that some people are doing it. Uber needs to have a few independents around in order to show that it is not a monopoly, but the company is happy to lose money if it puts bums on seats.

    Uber and self driving vehicles? No thanks.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: Try setting up a bank like Uber

      "Uber gets away with its business models -- slightly different according to location -- because it rarely faces a big foe. Uber runs away when they see that courts are against them. Uber attacks when it sees opportunity."

      Classic mob tactics. Llewelyn Morris "Curly" Humphreys would be proud.

      Recommended reading: The Outfit: The Role of Chicago's Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America by Gus Russo.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Try setting up a bank like Uber

      Uber is what it is -- a taxi or private hire car rental outfit,

      Uber is a vast, slow motion tragedy.

      Uber created a platform that could have been a win for (almost) everybody including most cabbies, if they'd worked with the industry. That would have taken time, it would have been difficult, there would have been refuseniks in the taxi and regulatory sector (particularly in the more crooked markets, like Boston). But there's loads of value Uber could have shared with the existing trade, because taxi drivers in most cities spend most of their time waiting or on empty return journeys, earning nothing. At peak times there's too much work to go round, so nobody is happy. And there's plenty of opportunity to squeeze out the crappy end of the taxi and hire car market, for example where you order a cab, and some dirty, smoking, barely roadworthy crap heap turns up, driven by an unwashed idiot.

      As a great and novel use of modern technology, Uber is superb. As a way of opening up the opaque taxi/private hire markets it is brilliant. But then, Uber's management decided to throw it all away, by refusing to be responsible, accountable, refusing to co-operate with regulators and local law, refusing to adapt the business model to different national and regional markets, by pissing on employees (including staff and regular drivers), by fleecing customers, and by extremely dodgy practices to try and evade regulatory enforcement. I can see Uber eventually imploding because of this childish refusal to abide by the rules that everybody else has to abide by. Eventually this will become a business school case study of a potentially great company destroyed by management arrogance, and Uber will replace Ratners in the popular lexicon.

      1. Naselus

        Re: Try setting up a bank like Uber

        "Eventually this will become a business school case study of a potentially great company destroyed by management arrogance"

        And what an astonishing level of arrogance there's been. Uber's regular flouting of laws and regulations, actual attempts at obstruction of justice, willingness to spy on it's own customers for no reason beyond their own entertainment, contempt for employees, rampant price-gouges and the rest of the litany of horrors that pours out of the company every week means there's already a dozen fair cases for imprisoning half the upper management.

        The business model adopted by Uber tries to bankrupt all competitors through burning vast quantities of venture capital, in the hope that they can then become a monopoly and jack up prices to insane levels (while simultaneously slashing wages). This is just writing abuse of markets into your business plan, and is the kind of thing which can only occur when there's an excess of available investment capital floating around.

        Frankly, it's the same kind of behaviour that was discovered to be going on at Enron. But at least Enron were more competent about covering it up.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes but

    Opinions from one of the court's Advocate Generals on any given case are significant, but not always followed by the court itself, notably in Max Schrems' "Safe Harbour" case. There the AG deemed that US-EU data arrangements met European privacy standards, only for the court to disagree.

    Yes, but who is going to disagree with Max "The (Legal) Beast of Vienna" Schrems, when it comes to privacy law?

  9. Nick Leaton

    If they are a taxi, they can go in bus lanes.

    Oh, they can't - so they aren't a cab

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Do hire cars count as cabs for that law?

  10. SarkyGit

    Here in Glasgow, Scotland, UK,

    Uber operate the same as "Private Hire" (mini cabs), they need to submit to all the same checks for their taxi drivers badge and vehicle standards with the local council.

    So that means a simple police check and 28 day wait for the badge and twice yearly rigorous vehicle inspections, there are more regulations about vehicle age to make sure the vehicles are all quite new..

    They are then issued a Private Hire licence (yes licence, thanks) to display on their vehicle.

    They can then use bus lanes, because they are a licenced taxi.

    So here, to operate a "Private Hire" licence, you need a base (which is a different kettle of licencing fish), in the case of Uber, THEY are the base.

    I have seen more and more Uber's on the road in the last year, so I think it is helping people who wouldnt normally be taxi drivers go out there but, I just cant help getting the feeling... they are all going to shit themselves when the tax man comes calling (unless, Uber has an app for that).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uber is loved by the governments in reality

    It allows large numbers of proles to be employed for the benefit of the 1%, whilst giving them none of the rights afforded by having a full time job with a regular income.

    I expect to see more apps like this - A 'Workr' app where you don't have a job or a contract but a 1% business owner taps an app and you only get paid for that bit of your time you do work and covers none of your costs of doing the work for them (such as equipment or workplace) and you are on call 24x7, and have zero guaranteed hours at any time.

    This is the vision of the future that is already coming to pass with Uber and zero hours contracts.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Uber is loved by the governments in reality

      An electronic version of the 1930s when every morning a crowd of men would appear at the docks or wherever and the bosses would select the workers for that day.

  12. Bob Hoskins
    Thumb Up

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    That is all

  13. ecofeco Silver badge

    About damn time

    If the driver can't set their own rates, then they work for the company.

    How hard was this for everyone to understand?

    Rhetorical question. It might as well have been quantum physics.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: About damn time

      In the US, setting prices is a huge test between who might be an independent contractor and who is an employee. Uber also sets requirements on other things that lean more towards drivers being employees; Rather stupid employees that can't do enough math to see that they are making less money (with the wear and tear on their car) than they would by working at a chip shop.

  14. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Uber is a private hire radio control centre, exactly the same as any other private hire radio control centre that have existed since the invention of the messenger boy.

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