LA and San Francisco sue Uber while 3 locations impose ban

10 Dec 2014

If Uber is valued at US$40bn, what is its legal division valued at? San Francisco and Los Angeles are next to sue the company, as Spain, Thailand and Rio de Janeiro ban the ride-sharing service.

Delhi banned Uber on Monday, and Portland, Oregon, and the Netherlands did likewise yesterday. Now the five locations are getting involved as Uber begins to appear more and more like an ogre being chased from a village with pitchforks and fire in ye olden times.

San Francisco district attorney George Gascon revealed he had joined his Los Angeles counterpart in filing a lawsuit, accusing Uber of “making false or misleading statements to consumers and for engaging in a variety of business practices that violate California law”.

As reported in Siliconvalley, Gascon said the city had settled with Uber rival Lyft, also based in San Francisco, for US$500,000.

“Uber has refused to comply with straightforward California laws that protect consumers from fraud and harm,” Gascon and Los Angeles County district attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “These companies can be innovative in the way they deliver services without ignoring the laws that protect the public.”

They both claim Uber makes misleading statements about the background checks it performs on drivers and falsely charged a US$1 ‘Safe Rides Fee’, among other accusations.

The pain in Spain

In Madrid, a commercial court judge sided with a taxi association complaint and Uber must cease driving in Spain until a lawsuit contesting its right to operate can be heard, according to The New York Times.

Over in Bangkok, Uber has also been shut down. The Thai transport authority said drivers picking up fare-paying passengers via Uber’s app “were neither registered nor insured to drive commercial vehicles, and that Uber’s credit-card payment system did not comply with regulations,” according to Reuters.

“They have to stop operations immediately,” director-general Thiraphong Rodprasert said.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, Uber was to discuss means of regulating its service with transport ministry officials on Monday, but cancelled the talks, citing “important circumstances”, which were no doubt related to the fall-out of the rape case in Delhi, which saw the service banned in the city.

In the recent past, Uber has been criticised for using its ‘God View’, revealing personal information of customers, as a party trick. It has also had to apologise after calling for smear campaigns against critical journalists. 

Uber has faced criticism for its hiring policies and sexist marketing campaigns in some parts of the world. Also, major cities such as Toronto and Berlin have campaigned against the service being available in their jurisdictions.

San Francisco image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic