Uber, an incredibly fast growing car service/taxi alternative, has hit a pothole in Cambridge, MA. The service allows users to request a car from a smartphone app, track the driver’s progress to their location, pay the driver from their
smartphone, and have the receipt emailed to them. Drivers sign up with the service, are vetted, and through a smartphone app, use GPS to track the cost of the trip. Enter the great city of Cambridge. Ever eager to protect the entrenched interests of local taxi drivers from the encroachment of the independent contractors Uber uses, they conducted a clever sting, by ordering a car from Uber, fining the driver, and confiscating his phone. Ultimately, the state’s Department of Standards cited the company for using GPS to track the cost of the trip. Apparently, the law doesn’t mention the technology, the federal government doesn’t “certify” it, so it’s not acceptable. This, despite its widespread use and easily verifiable results.
Cambridge has long had a strange tension between the promotion of cutting edge technological development and strange protectionist politics. If the law doesn’t allow for a service like Uber, well, then, it’s time Cambridge and Massachusetts stopped retarding innovation and changed their laws.
- Uber Boston Will Keep Operating Even Though the State Is Trying to Stop Them (bostinno.com)
- Cambridge Wants Uber Out, Too (theatlanticwire.com)
- Uber Boston Has Been Served (uber.com)
- Uber Boston promises to fight cease-and-desist order (news.cnet.com)
- Uber under legal pressure from a city again, this time it’s Boston over GPS tech (thenextweb.com)
- Popular car service Uber: Banned in Boston? (bizjournals.com)
- Uber Hit With Cease And Desist In Boston, Promises To Continue “Full Speed Ahead” (techcrunch.com)
- Uber’s tried-and-true marketing plan: Let your customers do the work (gigaom.com)