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Breather for Uber, Kolkata tags it as IT firm

By BS Reporter
January 15, 2015 10:52 IST
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The company has been vociferously campaigning in Delhi with the authorities to be recognised as an intermediary to be governed by the IT Act.

UberAmid all the chaos that Uber is engulfed in, the company has got a breather from unexpected quarters.

In what is a first instance of a state government agreeing to regard the San Francisco-based taxi aggregator as an information technology company, the Bidhannagar Commissionerate in Kolkata on Wednesday passed an order regulating on-demand transportation technology aggregators as technology companies, in accordance with the Information Technology Act, 2000.

“This first-of-its-kind order is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by putting differences aside and working together with the best interests of riders and drivers at heart,” the company said in its website.

The company is a facilitator of taxis (therefore an intermediary) and is best governed under the IT Act said Neeraj Singhal, Uber’s head of expansion in India.

He added unlike the other states, which have treated the company as a radio taxi operator, Kolkata has been forward looking by recognising it under the IT Act.

The company has been vociferously campaigning in Delhi with the authorities to be recognised as an intermediary to be governed by the IT Act.

However, the request has not cut much ice. Web-based taxi companies, including Uber and Ola Cabs, were banned from operating in Delhi on December 8, 2014 after a taxi driver on Uber’s network allegedly raped a 27-year-old woman.

The Delhi transport authority then modified the Radio Taxi Scheme, 2006 to allow aggregators to get licences. 

The amendments didn’t find a favourable response from the company because it did not support its business model as it was not a radio taxi company.

The company since then has been in a dialogue with the transport authorities to arrive at a middle ground.

However, after the elections were announced in the capital on Monday, any policy related decision will only happen after the new government is formed.

This means that Uber will continue be out of operation in Delhi for at least the next couple of months unless it alters its business model significantly and applies under the current laws.

According to the amendments, for seeking a licence a company has to abide by some mandatory guidelines like having prefixed calibrated meters in its cars, along with a GPS device, LCD display panel on the roof of the car.

Besides this, the cab has to be coloured white with a coloured strip on both sides of the taxi, prominently displaying the name of the licencee, according to the new rules.

Most of the rules go against the business model of taxi aggregators such as Uber and Ola Cabs which do not own their fleets.

“It does not accurately reflect the primary role that the Information Act 2000 plays in regulating intermediaries like Uber.

“We are committed to working with the government to develop regulations based on a shared commitment to safety and a vision for how technology can improve the transportation environment in major urban areas in India,” Uber had stated earlier.

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BS Reporter in Kolkata/New Delhi
Source: source
 

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