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Uber banned in Spain, India, and Thailand due to 'illegal' operations

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Uber's buccaneering expansion meets stern resistance

Uber

The bad news for Uber just keeps coming, and today there's a trifecta of regulatory rebuffs to the web-based taxi company's drive for international expansion. In Madrid, a judge has ruled that Uber should cease all activities in Spain because its drivers are unregistered and thus act as unfair competition to existing taxi services. Affirming a complaint filed by the Madrid Taxi Association, the judge has explained that his ruling is a practical one, adhering to current laws, rather than a philosophical statement about free markets and the so-called sharing economy.

Authorities in Thailand have reached a similar conclusion, deeming Uber's operation of unlicensed and uninsured taxi services to be unlawful, and have also asked the company to cease business — at least until it starts using properly accredited drivers rather than private cars. India has already instituted a ban on Uber in Delhi following the rape of a female passenger, but now the country is broadening its prohibition and advising all its state governments to enforce it. It specifically bans the use of web-based taxi-hailing apps, meaning the ban will have an impact on others beyond Uber, but the focus on the California company is intensifying with the Delhi Police "also exploring the issue of possible legal liability of the taxi service Uber in the crime committed," according to Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

These measures are just the latest wave in an almost-universal backlash among regulators to Uber's buccaneering practices and aggressive expansion. While the rulings are accompanied by tough talk of clamping down, none of them are final and none should come as a surprise to Uber. The countries in question are simply enforcing the rules they already have, and they all leave a window for Uber to bring its service within the realm of acceptable competition by properly registering and insuring its drivers.