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Convergence

2019

The Municipality of Montevideo prepared a comprehensive economic study on the operation of ride-hailing services, including Uber, Easy Taxi, Cabify and Uruguay Present, and its consequences in the transportation sector. The study indicates that the ratio between the number of available taxis and the number of vehicles per app is 1 to 4, which means that at peak time the ride-hailing apps cover the demand that taxis cannot. In addition, most part of the drivers who work for ride-hailing platforms do so in part-time, and more precisely in peak hours, when the deficit of taxis has been historically high. Since May 2018, the admission of new permit holders to operate in ride-hailing platforms was suspended. Due to the restriction, ride prices have raised. After the study, the authorities decided to reverse the decision and give more permits to ride-hailing drivers. The department government also intend to prohibit drivers who do not own a vehicle from working with a third party’s car. The purpose is to avoid a relation of subordination between the car owner and the driver and preserve the driver’s self-employment status.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stated that more regulation will be necessary to help the growth of national sharing economies which have long been targeted for venture capital investments. The Premier announced that the Chinese government might be focused on enacting laws to increase public security and safety without impeding progress to the companies. The announcement came amid the safety crisis at the ride-hailing Didi Chunxing and the collapse of the bike-sharing Ofo.​

In 2013, the ride-hailing platform was sued by a class of 385.000 drivers claiming they were employees of Uber and not independent contractors.  The case encompassed drivers from California and Massachusetts who did not agree with Uber’s policy of classifying drivers as independent contractors. Besides the cash settlement, Uber compromised to modify its businesses practices in the two states, including: a. the driver will no longer have their account deactivated for low usage rates; b. the platform will publish a comprehensive policy online and will provide notice before deactivating a driver’s account; c. the platform will provide for quality courses for drivers who have their account deactivated. This settlement is distinct in size from the original 2016 settlement. In 2016, Uber agreed to pay $100 million to 385.000 drivers, but the federal judge rejected the amount ruling it was too low. After the decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit limited the size of the class to 13.600 drivers due to Uber’s arbitration clause accepted by a vast number of drivers. Ultimately, the drivers will receive around $ 0.37 cents per mile driven for Uber.

The US Court of Appeals’ ninth circuit denied striking down a Santa Monica regulation that holds short-term online companies liable for illicit rentals. The regulation provides tort responsibility for platforms intermediating the rental of residences that are not licenced by the city council. Airbnb Inc. and HomeAway filed a lawsuit alleging that the legal liability violates the US Communications Decency Act of 1996, which shields online services from liability for the content that their users publish on their sites. The Ninth Circuit Panel ruled that ‘Internet companies must also comply with any number of local regulations concerning, for example, employment, tax or zoning’. In addition, the panel concluded that the local regulation restricting short-rentals do not constitute a burden to the constitutional right to free speech, because users will still have access to lawful advertisements.

The ride-hailing company consented to pay a fine of € 2,3 million to settle charges concerning past violations of local laws in the Netherlands. When UberPop operated in the country, between July 2014 and November 2015, it allowed its drivers to provide transportation services without a proper license. Local taxi laws require private transportation services to have a taxi license. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (DPPS) announced that Uber International BV, Uber Netherlands BV, Uber BV and Rasier Operations BV agreed to pay the amount. In addition, the person responsible to start Uber’s operations in the Netherlands had to perform community service penalty. The DDPS believes that a Court would have decided in the same way of settlement terms.

The Karnataka High Court has received a petition claiming that video streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar and YouTube should be brought under the Cinematograph Act and should obtain certificates from the Central Board of Film Certification before broadcasting content. The petition argues that until the government enact suitable laws, the Board should certify all films and serials content on streaming platforms. The petition alleges that video streaming platforms make multimedia content, including films, without any suitable regulation. It addresses that streaming platforms should not claim safe harbour protection under the IT Act (Section 79) since they decide what content will be streamed by getting into agreements with content producers.  ​​

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