Prague and Brno teaming up against Uber

The two largest Czech cities want the ride sharing service to be regulated by the government

Prague and Brno city administrations are working together on how to deal with the ride sharing service Uber. Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) has started negotiations with the Brno Mayor Peter Vokřál (ANO) on changes in the framework for dealing with the drivers. She also wants to meet with Deputy Brno Mayor Matěj Hollan (Žít Brno), who is responsible for transportation issues.

Krnáčová said that Uber was not a sympathetic startup company like it claims and that is has nothing in common with the shared economy, according to news server Euro. She maintains it is a regular taxi service but unlike other operators it pays no taxes and therefore is stealing from the state. She also says that drivers often do not make their expenses and as a result drivers have been leaving the service.

Krnáčová's goal is to take the common proposals of Prague and Brno to relevant government ministries and have the issue dealt with at the government level, as the issue concerns several cities.

Prague City Hall has tried several times to get Uber to change its terms of service so that it is in compliance with legislation, but so far there has been no change. The Transport Ministry in September 2014 informed the company that it needs to work in accordance with laws governing road transportation. According to City Hall, Uber has not complied with that request either.

According to legal opinions from both the ministry and the city, Uber is a taxi service. Since 2016, the city has been running checks on Uber and some 68 inspected rides all showed misconduct. Taxis are required to have an illuminated taxi sign on the roof, post the prices per kilometer and have a taxi meter. Some drivers also lack a business license to operate a taxi and do not have their vehicles registered as taxis.

Since the pricing of an Uber car changes during the day at times it exceeds the maximum level set by Prague regulations.

Krnáčová said that she has met Uber drivers and that the company has not informed them that they are operating in violation of the law and what the risks are. The city intends to start a website informing drivers what they need to do to comply with the law and what the most common violations are, she said.

Uber Technologies is an online transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. Currently it operates in 528 cities worldwide. The company develops, markets and operates a software application that allows consumers to request transportation via an app or through a website. Uber drivers use their own personal cars, although drivers can rent a car to drive with Uber.

The company has run into trouble in several cities. Most recently, the company has been found to have operated special software to help evade police in cities where the service was facing regulation. The program was called Greyball and was used in cities such as Boston and Las Vegas in the US and Paris in France, as well as in China and South Korea. People who were suspected by the program of being investigators would have their rides canceled. Legal experts contacted by the New York Times said the program could be considered an obstruction of justice or be in violation of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Uber in January agreed to pay a $20 million fine in the US for misleading drivers about their potential earnings and the costs of leasing a car. The suit was brought by the US Federal Trade Commission. Uber admitted no wrongdoing.

Protests against Uber have taken place in Germany, Spain, France, and the UK, among other countries. In Europe, Uber has faced legal problems in France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Romania, among other countries. In some places it has changed its operations to be in line with regulations.

In September 2016 Uber had an $11.4 million fine reinstated in the US state of Pennsylvania. Uber is appealing the decision.

Uber also currently faces accusation from Google's parent company Alphabet that Uber stole trade secrets from Google and used them in the development of self-driving cars.

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