Uber is in legal trouble in Israel, charged by the Transportation Ministry with using unauthorized drivers who were illegally paid as part of its new Uber Night operation.
The company said in response that the pilot program was set up in compliance with government regulations and was similar to other applications that seek to cover costs.
According to the Transportation Ministry on Wednesday, an undercover investigation found Uber recruiting private drivers to operate the network without the necessary licenses, and that the company took 25 percent of the cost of each ride.
Israeli regulations forbid non-authorized drivers from earning money while transporting passengers. Accordingly, services like Uber and Gett are only allowed to use licensed taxi drivers, a measure aimed at protecting their livelihoods.
MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) took Uber’s side in the case: “Instead of working towards improving public transport and arrangement for ridesharing initiatives, the Ministry of Transport prefers to hound drivers and prosecute them because they have adapted to the 21st century and joined the cooperative economy trend that is growing worldwide. This is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing and demonstration of the distorted approach of the Ministry of Transport.”
The Ministry claims that the fares charged by Uber Night were higher than what was required to merely cover operational costs, thus making the service illegal.