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posted by janrinok on Monday June 09 2014, @03:36AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the if-we-can't-tax-it-you-can't-do-it dept.

Earlier this year, Virginia officials slapped app-based ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft with more than $35,000 in civil penalties for operating with out proper permits. Now the Washington Post reports that Richard D. Holcomb, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, has sent a cease and desist letter to both companies. "I am once again making clear that Uber must cease and desist operating in Virginia until it obtains proper authority," says Holcomb in his letter.

Officials at both companies say they will continue to operate in the state, despite the order. "We've reviewed state transportation codes and believe we are following the applicable rules," says Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson. "We'll continue normal operations as we work to make policy progress. Virginia residents have enthusiastically embraced Lyft as an affordable and reliable transportation alternative that increases safety by going above and beyond what is required by existing transportation services." ""People like this service, they always say it's better than cab," says Fateh El-Ja-Rarri, an UberX driver who adds that Virginia should be praising the app-based service for creating jobs and not trying to shut drivers like himself down.

Using mobile apps to connect passengers with part-time drivers of private cars, oftentimes for less than the cost of a traditional taxi or car service, both companies have grown in popularity in recent years and expanded to cities around the US and world. Lyft, which launched in 2012, operates in 60 US cities while Uber's four-year-old service has a presence in 35 countries and more than 100 cities. But those journeys have not been without regulatory roadblocks. Resistance to the model has been particularly heated in New York, where taxi officials initially stopped Uber and other car hailing apps from entering the market. Uber was able to prevail in New York City and now runs its peer-to-peer service using drivers who are licensed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

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  • (Score: 2) by Rune of Doom on Monday June 09 2014, @03:44AM

    by Rune of Doom (1392) on Monday June 09 2014, @03:44AM (#53122)

    New Model Capitalism. Open and blatant disregard for the rule of law. I hope (but sincerely doubt) that this ends uber. Uber = corporate version of Cliven Bundy. Any bets that Uber won't rev up their own lawyers and run to the courts when someone interferes with its business model, legally or otherwise?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:01AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:01AM (#53126)

      If they are indeed in compliance with all relevant vehicular and personal safety laws and only in breach of licensing, which I suspect to be the case given Uber's confidence, this may be where they have chosen to make a legal stand against licensure. Virginia might be a friendlier and certainly symbolic place to argue that the laws regarding safety are valid, but that the licensure process is pure protectionism and undue interference in otherwise lawful commerce. No clue on how they think they can persuade a judge of that, but it could be a very important precedent. Bear in mind that VA generally loathes protectionism: it's an open shop, no-public-union state with hundreds of years of history that lean towards the liberal/neo-liberal (not in the US political sense but the international/economic sense). They might be able to round up local legal help from some of the right-wing law schools there too.

      They have to take a judicial plunge at some point; they can't win all the legislatures.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by edIII on Monday June 09 2014, @04:11AM

        by edIII (791) on Monday June 09 2014, @04:11AM (#53128)

        laws regarding safety are valid, but that the licensure process is pure protectionism and undue interference in otherwise lawful commerce

        Never underestimate some government peon's sense of entitlement when they see tax revenue drying up from disruptive technologies. It's not just about protectionism in which unhealthy corruption and collusion exists between government workers and favored businesses, but also about money, and worse, government budgets.

        Government institutions like the DMV can't accept that the revenue will disappear. You bet there is infighting involved since they contract and budget allocations have to change among the internal departments, or they ask for more via taxation. I bet they literally can't move the red tape fast enough to adjust to Uber and Lyfte and maintain license revenue. Since they can't, why not just abuse your authority and start levying fines and brute force these disruptive upstarts out of the market instead?

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @06:08AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @06:08AM (#53147)

          Disruptive technology has become a legal term, check industries affected by the marginal cost of distribution ~zero

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @05:01AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @05:01AM (#53138)

    but Virgina is the most fascist of Atlantic Coast states.

  • (Score: 2, Troll) by Hairyfeet on Monday June 09 2014, @07:34AM

    by Hairyfeet (75) <bassbeast1968NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 09 2014, @07:34AM (#53154) Journal

    That always beat the "free market" drum that have an absolute shitfit if anybody actually tries to compete with a corp?

    --
    ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.
    • (Score: 2) by skullz on Monday June 09 2014, @07:41AM

      by skullz (2532) on Monday June 09 2014, @07:41AM (#53156)

      Free market for us, not for you. Want to sell you fancy smancy electric cars in Texas without paying the middleman? No sir! Freedom, that's freedom you smell!

    • (Score: 2) by etherscythe on Monday June 09 2014, @10:39PM

      by etherscythe (937) on Monday June 09 2014, @10:39PM (#53433) Journal

      Could be it's just that the entrenched corps. are demanding the legal environment they paid^H^H^H^H made political contributions and privileged suggestions for. Doesn't get any more capitalistic than that, right?

      --
      "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
      • (Score: 2) by Hairyfeet on Tuesday June 10 2014, @10:55AM

        by Hairyfeet (75) <bassbeast1968NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 10 2014, @10:55AM (#53693) Journal

        What is even more funny is that I got marked troll for pointing out reality, that those that CLAIM to be all for the free market are the same ones that comes down in favor of big government when that free market competes against an entrenched interest.

        --
        ACs are never seen so don't bother. Always ready to show SJWs for the racists they are.