Hungary authorises blocking of ride-sharing apps

GMT 01:11 2016 Tuesday ,14 June

Arab Today, arab today Hungary authorises blocking of ride-sharing apps

Since Uber entered the Hungarian market in 2014
Budapest - AFP

Hungarian lawmakers on Monday gave the government the power to block ride-sharing applications, in a move aimed at US giant Uber whose popularity in the country has triggered protests by traditional taxi drivers.

The new law allows the government to technically block "a provider of taxi services operating without a proper dispatch centre" for up to one year.

"Uber has no place in the Hungarian market," said lawmaker Janos Fonagy of the ruling right-wing Fidesz party, before the vote in the capital Budapest.

Since Uber entered the Hungarian market in 2014, around 1,200 drivers and 150,000 riders have registered with the company.

The vote follows months of protests by licensed taxi drivers who have complained that orders have been decreasing sharply, and that Uber drivers -- who are charging significantly cheaper fares -- should be subject to the same stringent rules regulating official cabs.

In response, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban tightened regulation of Uber drivers, with authorities stepping up fines and on-the-spot confiscations of their licence plates.

In May, Uber's Hungarian branch handed the government a petition signed by some 30,000 people urging it not to ban the service.

"The ban of new technologies, simply because they do not fit in old legal frames, is not a good direction", said Zoltan Fekete, the company's head in Hungary, in a statement following Monday's parliamentary vote.

The US company has become one of the world's most valuable startups, worth an estimated $50 billion (44 billion euros), as it has expanded to more than 50 countries.

But it has faced regulatory hurdles and protests from established taxi operators in most locations where it has launched.


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