Colombia’s commercial regulatory authority, the Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio (SIC), has ordered popular ride hailing platform Uber to cease operations in Colombia. So far Uber has rejected the order, indicates it is appealing, and continues to operate.
Uber is very popular in Colombia, especially in Bogotá, where many taxi operators have earned a very low reputation for service & honesty.
Hated by taxi syndicates, Uber has approximately 2.3 million users in Colombia and almost 90,000 drivers. While the Superintendencia has sided with taxi unions and declared Uber illegal, the Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones, Colombia’s Technology Ministry has declared that Uber and other ride hailing platforms are legal and cannot be banned under Colombia’s open-access internet laws. In other words, individual drivers may be violating the law, but the mobile application and platform itself, as an internet communications platform cannot be banned.
Uber issued a statement saying: “This decision reflects an act of censorship and infringes on the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights, which has already condemned attempts to block Uber for violating the neutrality of the web, liberty of expression and freedom of internet.” The company’s Colombian subsidiary has already filed an appeal in the civil division of the Superior Court of Bogotá.
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The lawsuit was filed by Bogotá taxi dispatcher Cotech S.A. against Uber, for unfair competition, and diversion of clientele under articles 8 and 18 of Law 256 of 1996. The judgement applies to Uber, Uber X and Uber VAN but does not apply to food delivery service Uber EATS.
A source with knowledge of the proceedings suggests SIC head Andrés Barreto was pressured by the administration of President Ivan Duque in order to prevent taxi operators from joining the recent strike actions and protests against the already deeply unpopular government. Not that the government is necessarily anti-Uber but wishes to quiet discontent among even another sector angry with the status quo.
Above photo: Video footage where SIC head Andrés Barreto rules Uber illegal in Colombia