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Seoul is banning Uber in favor of its own app

South Korean capital Seoul could potentially ban Uber in the city, in favor of its own still-in-development app. The city government advised that it would try to ban the car-hailing app, as current South Korean law makes it illegal to provide any sort of fee-based transportation service via privately-owned vehicles not registered to do so with local authorities. The Wall Street Journal reports the city is working on its own similar app for registered cabs, allowing users to see the locations of nearby rides and driver ratings, and is aiming for launch in December. The city’s government has previously requested for police to investigate Uber, and though this stopped over a “lack of evidence,” the city is asking for the inquiry to continue. One Uber driver has already been caught by the city in April, and received a fine of 1 million won ($975) for driving a rented car for unregistered taxi-related purposes.

The Seoul city government said Monday it would seek a ban on a car-hailing smartphone app from Uber Technologies Inc., joining a global battle by municipalities and traditional taxi services against the service. The local authority said in a statement that Uber is illegal under South Korean law, which forbids fee-paying transport services using private or rented motor vehicles unregistered with the authorities. The city added that it will launch in December an app that will provide similar features to Uber for official taxis, such as geo-location data on cabs nearby, information about them and their drivers, as well as ratings. A Seoul-based Uber spokesman said the company was preparing a response to Seoul’s move, which follows a string of other actions taken by the city against the service in recent months. In April, Seoul issued a fine of 1 million won ($974) to a driver after he or she solicited customers through Uber while driving a rented car. A month later, the city government asked the police to investigate the San Francisco-based startup but the probe was suspended due to a lack of evidence. The city will ask police to resume the suspended inquiry, its statement said. Seoul’s move comes as similar efforts are pursued by state agencies and city governments worldwide that say Uber and similar apps skirt regulations. The five-year-old company faces a slew of lawsuits across the U.S. and its app is banned in some European cities. Thousands of conventional taxi drivers around Europe last month protested the service. Uber’s general manager for Europe welcomed the protests as a chance to increase publicity and offered promotions to counter taxi strikes. Taipei’s taxi drivers also stopped traffic earlier this month in protest of Uber.

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