blog It’s no secret that ride-sharing and transportation company Uber doesn’t precisely have the best relationship with state governments. The company is currently fighting a running battle all around Australia (except in Canberra, where it has been largely welcomed by the sensible ACT Legislative Assembly) merely to operate its services. The situation is especially fraught in Queensland, where the Government is seeking to actually fine Uber drivers for merely doing their job.
However, according to the Brisbane Times, Uber is fighting back by … blocking the Queensland Government’s inspectors from booking its services and thus being able to fine its drivers. The site reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):
The acting director of the Department of Transport and Main Roads for taxis and limousines Noela Cerutti told a committee … “They now can, with their technology, recognise not only a sim card, but the handset … “So we’ve gone through hundreds of phones trying to catch the next driver in doing the wrong thing.”
Although there is no doubt that this behaviour is probably a little unethical in terms of Uber complying with Government regulation (I never like to see companies flouting the law, although in this case the law is probably a little unclear), it is also, to my mind, quite amusing that Uber is using its own technology to block the Queensland Government from fining its drivers.
One can only chuckle when picturing a Government department buying hundreds of new SIM cards in an attempt to keep up with Uber’s blocking software.
This is a perfect example of a situation where a Government is attempting to stop the public from using a popular service based on a technological innovation which the public wants to use. In such situations, the lesson for the Government concerned is nearly always to get on board with the innovation and put some sensible safety controls around it, rather than trying to block it entirely as Queensland is trying to do.
I don’t applaud Uber’s move here. But neither would I condemn it. Australia’s personal transportation market is currently run in a highly regulated fashion which benefits the entrenched taxi industry and state governments. It’s about time it was shaken up turned into a more open system, and Uber’s move is congruent with that need. The drastic nature of the company’s action just shows how entrenched the current system is.