It's been a rough day for Uber’s overseas operations.
On Wednesday morning, a German court ruled that Uber was violating certain commercial passenger laws with its UberPOP service, which allows drivers to shuttle riders around without requiring the drivers to be professionally licensed. Each violation of the law, the court ruled, would be punishable with a €250,000 fine, or roughly $266,000.
UberBlack and UberTaxi are not affected by this decision, as both of those services use professional drivers. But the problem with UberPOP in Germany may be deeper than just closing a simple loophole; as German judge Joachim Nickel said, “In terms of constitutional and European law the business model is not approvable.”
Elsewhere on the continent, more than two dozen armed police officers raided Uber’s office in France on Wednesday morning, seizing cell phones and emails from the company's workers, according to TheNextWeb. The report quotes an Uber official as saying, “the exact reason for this visit remains unclear," but it’s likely that the raid has something to do with the enforcement of Loi Thévenoud, a law that went into effect at the start of 2015. The law regulates taxis and VTCs (verified travel consultants) to make sure they are properly licensed.
Uber has been in legal limbo in France for years. In January of this year, a French court ruled that it would not ban UberPOP, despite the passage of Loi Thévenoud. But today's raid comes just days after the country highlighted two main provisions of the law that UberPOP appears to violate. Uber's other services, however, remain legal in France.
"UberPOP is a service that doesn't respect national regulation when it comes to insurance, social rights for drivers, and protection for consumers,"Axelle Lemaire, France's Deputy Minister for the Digital Sector, told Fusion earlier this month. "But Uber as a platform where it's easy for consumers to find an efficient and high quality service is welcome in France."
Thousands of miles away from Paris, Uber also caught some bad news in South Korea. This morning, police in Seoul arrested several local Uber workers, and seized more than 400 pieces of evidence from the company's offices. South Korea has been warring with Uber for months: last year, there was an a warrant issued for the arrest of Uber's CEO, Travis Kalanick, for running an operation that violates the country's transportation laws.
Today's Seoul raid is the latest aggression against Uber, which is being accused of breaking Korean laws, which prevent unregistered transportation services. Uber had previously suspended its Seoul UberX operations while it tried to bring them into compliance with local laws. It then began offering free rides in Seoul, which may have angered local officials, even if it delighted customers.
"Uber's service is used worldwide, but most of its cars and drivers are unlicensed," a spokesperson for Seoul District Police told ZDNet. "It disturbs the cab industry, and they are not paying any taxes because there are no proper taxation processes in place."
With all of these global battles unfolding simultaneously, it's no wonder that Uber's war chest needs to be so large. Uber "campaign manager" David Plouffe might want to brush up on his Rosetta Stone.
"I write about the future (Associate Producer at @ThisIsFusion).
I write about the past (publisher of #OGToldMe).
Oakland, CA raised me."