Taiwan to ask for removal of Uber apps from Apple, Google app stores

November 16, 2016 4:42 AM EST

A photo illustration shows the Uber app logo displayed on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/Illustration


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TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan plans to ask Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Alphabet Inc's (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google to pull apps of Uber Technologies available in Taiwan on their app stores, a government official said, upping pressure on the ride-hailing firm that is locked in a dispute with the island.

Uber [UBER.UL] operates in Taiwan as an internet-based technology platform rather than a transportation company, which Taiwanese authorities have said is a mis-representation of its service and has ordered it to pay back taxes.

However, Uber has said it is communicating with Taiwan authorities and complies with local regulations.

"Uber has not done what it says it will do, so we are looking at another way by requesting its apps be removed from Apple and Google (app stores)," Liang Guo-guo, a spokesman for Taiwan's Directorate General of Highways, which is handling the matter, told Reuters by phone on Wednesday.

Liang said the request would include the removal of UberEATS app, which Uber launched in Taiwan on Tuesday as part of its effort to expand beyond its core taxi-hailing business around the world.

It is unclear if the move would succeed in hampering Uber in Taiwan as removing the app would not prevent alternative ways to download it. It is also not clear how apps that have already been downloaded by users will be dealt with.

Uber and Apple did not immediately respond with comments.

A Google spokesperson pointed to policies on Google Play, its app store, which indicate that the company does not allow apps that facilitate or promote illegal activities, but declined to comment further.

Taiwan transport authorities have begun penalizing UberEATS by fining motorcyclists who deliver the takeaways and suspending vehicle licenses for two to six months, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Uber has been facing similar legal scrutiny in markets across Asia. It entered the Taiwan market in 2013, and its growing popularity has triggered anger from domestic taxi drivers, who staged a massive protest against Uber earlier this year.

(Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)



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