Court opinion poses threat to Uber and Airbnb

11-May-2017 @ 11:45

Daniel Dalton Daniel Dalton

Daniel Dalton Daniel Dalton

Daniel Dalton Daniel Dalton

Court opinion poses threat to Uber and Airbnb

The future of internet-based services such as Uber and Airbnb has been thrown into doubt by an opinion issued today by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The opinion from the Advocate General of the ECJ follows a case brought by Spanish taxi drivers against the ride sharing service Uber. The Advocate General recommends that Uber should be regulated like a transport company, and not simply be regarded as a passive online platform linking passengers and drivers.

If the opinion is upheld Uber, and other so-called information society services such as Airbnb, would be subject to a raft of regulations. In Uber's case, it would be required to obtain licences and authorisations like standard taxi firms. It would also fall under regulations applying in some UK cities which limit the number of taxis allowed to operate.

The ECJ's final judgement will be produced in the coming months. Typically the ECJ judges follow the opinion of the Advocate General and, if they do, Uber is likely to be branded either a transport company or a hybrid transport company/internet intermediary.

Conservative MEP Dan Dalton, a member of the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, said the opinion had huge implications for innovative, consumer driven digital services all across Europe.

“Consumers embrace services like Uber because they deliver good services at good prices, in contrast to old monopolies which have not kept pace with digital evolutions," he said. "Workers embrace them because they offer flexible working times and conditions.

“It is right that there are safeguards for consumers, but applying analogue era regulation to the digital world only strangles innovation and entrenches privileged monopolies.

“The European Union talks of prioritising the digital single market because of the benefits for growth and for consumers. But how exactly is it delivering for consumers when services they like and want to use are banned?”

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