Sunday, January 15, 2017

Innovation is threatened by proposed bill: Uber

Innovation is threatened by proposed bill: Uber

DIALOGUE:Uber Technologies Inc Asia-Pacific regional general manager Mike Brown said he wants to discuss ‘meaningful’ ride-sharing regulations with the government

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Uber Technologies Inc Asia-Pacific regional general manager Mike Brown, second left, listens as an Uber driver speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

The Democratic Progressive Party’s proposed amendment to the Highway Act (公路法) threatens technological innovation, Uber Technologies Inc Asia-Pacific regional general manager Mike Brown said yesterday. He called on the government to draft a new bill that incorporates the ride-sharing economy.
“We’ve seen countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam embracing the new technology by setting new regulations, but Taiwan seems to be going backward,” Brown told a news conference in Taipei.
“It [the bill] sends a signal that the country is fearful [of] or disregarding innovation of technology,” he said.
Brown’s visit to Taipei came after he wrote an open letter to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Nov. 17 asking her to step in and hold a public hearing on drafting a new law to regulate ride-sharing.
The San Francisco-based company, which has more than 100,000 drivers and 1 million downloads for its app in Taiwan, has faced strong opposition from taxi operators and some lawmakers since it launched its ride-sharing service in Taiwan in 2013.
The Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee is scheduled to review the proposed amendment, which states that those caught driving for a ride-sharing company would be fined between NT$100,000 and NT$25 million (US$3,130 and US$782,424), as well as having their driving license suspended.
Uber has responded successfully to every request made by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, such as collaborating with Fubon Insurance Co to introduce commercial insurance for its drivers, but it has not seen the government attempt to introduce a law to support ride-sharing, Brown said.
Asked if Uber would ensure its drivers are covered by labor and health insurance, instead of offering a direct answer, Uber Taiwan general manager Gu Li-kai (顧立楷) said that there is no employer-employee relationship between Uber and its drivers, as the drivers simply use the company’s technology.
Brown said he does not yet know if Uber would abandon Taiwan if lawmakers pass the bill, which would see its drivers subject to large fines.
He said he wants to have an open dialogue with government officials to discuss “meaningful” ride-sharing regulations during his two-day stay in Taipei.
Uber believes that any ride-sharing bill should focus on safety, but reduce restrictions and expenses by allowing ordinary drivers with no criminal background to provide ride-sharing services within one day, Brown said.

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