European courts have ruled that the world’s biggest ride-hailing firm is a transport company, not a digital service. As the Guardian notes, the European Court of Justice ruling is pretty clear. In the court’s words:
[A service] the purpose of which is to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys, must be regarded as being inherently linked to a transport service and, accordingly, must be classified as “a service in the field of transport” within the meaning of EU law.
The decision gives EU member countries more autonomy to regulate Uber than if it were a tech firm. Though, in reality, the ride-hailing firm is already involved in many regulatory disputes across Europe, including a ban in London that we reported recently. Indeed, in a statement, Uber said:
This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law … As our new CEO has said, it is appropriate to regulate services such as Uber and so we will continue the dialogue with cities across Europe.
Ultimately, the bigger impact may end up being to other gig economy firms, such as Airbnb and Taskrabbit, which could end up being affected by other rulings that cite this one.