Uber hits legal roadblock in Israel | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 27.11.2017
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Uber hits legal roadblock in Israel

The bad news continues for Uber. Less than a week after the revelations about a massive data leak the firm tried to cover up, Israel has become the latest country to block some of the firm’s services.

An Israeli court has banned Uber's ride-sharing services from operating in the country, following legal challenges from a taxi drivers' union and a rival ride-sharing app.

The beleaguered ride-hailing service has been trying to develop its operations in the Israeli market in recent times, both through its traditional app-based taxi booking model and also through two ride-sharing pilot schemes, UberNIGHT and UberDAY.

Monday's injunction targets those ride-sharing pilots, which Uber confirmed would no longer operate following the ruling. Uber says its standard app service will continue to operate in the country.

"While we are ending our UberNIGHT and UberDAY pilots, we will continue to offer UberTAXI in Israel," a spokeswoman said. "We are committed to working with the Israeli authorities to explore how technology can improve our cities with safe and affordable transportation alternatives."

Read more: Uber confirms Dara Khosrowshahi as new CEO amid fresh legal trouble

Those who took the action against Uber claimed the ride-sharing services were dangerous for customers as the drivers were not insured and lacked training and expertise.

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"They operate private taxis in violation of the law," said Yehuda Bar On, head of the taxi drivers' union.

The turmoil continues

The news from the Tel Aviv court is the latest in a string of very damaging stories concerning Uber, the San Francisco-based transport technology company that has never strayed too far from controversy since being founded in 2008.

In June this year, its founder and CEO Travis Kalanick resigned after a series of controversies, many of them concerning the manner in which he had handled allegations of sexual harassment and workplace bullying, said to have been rampant within Uber's workplace culture.

Then there have been Uber's constant battles with taxi driver groups, taxi companies and regulators. Uber's services have already been suspended in several countries, to varying degrees.

Then last week Uber admitted that hackers stole personal data from more than 57 million of its customers around the world. This hugely embarrassing error was compounded by the fact that in 2016, Uber executives tried to cover up the data breach by paying bribes to the hackers to stay quiet.

In light of Uber's series of scandals and controversies, its executives have embarked on global missions of supplication, aiming to convince regulators that the company can and will mend its ways.

They think it's all Uber, it is now?

While Uber's current corporate messaging suggests the company is eager to change, it remains to be seen what the future holds for it in Israel.

Monday's ruling was expected, given Israel's strong regulations in defense of licensed taxi operators. Beyond Monday's case, the Israeli transportation ministry is also pursuing a case against Uber for its business practices.

Uber's ride-sharing services have not operated for long in Israel. Its daytime service began in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago, with the nighttime service having started in 2016.

aos/ (Reuters, AFP)

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