CJEU rules ride-hailing app is information society service

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decided that the Romanian taxi-hailing app Start Taxi App SRL is an information society service (ISS). The app puts taxi passengers directly in touch with taxi drivers. The app makes it possible for passengers to run a search which displays a list of taxi drivers available for a trip. The app does not forward bookings to taxi drivers and does not decide the price of the trips, which is paid directly to the driver at the end of the journey. The Bucharest Municipal authority had set the obligation (Decision 626/2017) for the app to apply for a public authorisation for ‘dispatching’. Star Taxi appealed the decision, alleging that it breached the European Directive on Electronic Commerce. The directive forbids EU member states from requiring any special authorisation for ISSs to operate in their countries. The CJEU concluded that the app does not directly select the drivers and does not decide their fares, therefore it shall not be considered part of the transportation company, but instead only an information service provider. Alternatively, in December 2017, the CJEU had ruled that the Uber app was not only an information service provider, but also a transportation company. The difference between Uber and Star Taxi is that Uber books drivers via algorithms and decides the fares.