There is seemingly no end to ride-hailing service Uber's woes.
The San Francisco-based company has faced regulatory problems and objections from local taxi drivers in countries around the world since it first launched. This week it's dealing with a new wave of criticism and roadblocks from the UK, the Netherlands, Australia and Brazil.
Proposed new regulations for private hire drivers could effectively halt Uber's operations in the UK, while drivers in New South Wales, Australia, have had their licenses suspended. Dutch authorities have raided Uber's Amsterdam office for a third time and the mayor of the Rio de Janeiro has banned the service from operating in the city.
Established taxi firms have struggled to keep up with the growing popularity of Uber, which allows passengers to order and pay for rides at competitive prices using a dedicated smartphone app. The international crackdown this week is the latest headache for the company, which continues to face regulatory scrutiny and opposition from taxi drivers.
On Tuesday, Rio de Janeiro's mayor announced that Uber was banned from operating in the city, with unlicensed drivers now facing hefty fines. Mayor Eduardo Paes has said he is willing to discuss with Uber how it could be legalised and regulated, reported Reuters.
In the Netherlands, Uber's Amsterdam headquarters have now been raided three times as part of a criminal probe into UberPOP, reports Bloomberg. The UberPOP ride-sharing service, which has , and has come under fire in many countries for using unlicensed drivers.
Uber has also told the Guardian that it is "shocked" by the fact that 40 of its drivers in Australia had their licenses suspended. Taxi drivers called on the government to take action on unlicensed drivers and ensure they pay the same license and registration fees as other drivers of private-hire vehicles.
Transport for London (TfL), the government body responsible for transport in the British capital, has just published proposals that could make it nearly impossible for Uber to operate in the capital as it does currently and significantly hamper the company's attempt to bring UberPool, its carpooling service, to the city. The new proposals from TfL include a minimum five-minute wait time for all preordered taxis and the ability to preorder up to a week in advance.
"These bureaucratic new rules will not improve your ride," said Jo Bertram, Uber's general manager for the UK and Ireland, in a statement. "They're designed to address the concerns of black cab drivers, who feel under pressure from increased competition. But the answer is to reduce the onerous regulations cabbies face today -- not increase them for everyone else."
On Tuesday evening, Uber emailed its London users warning them that if the proposals are adopted "they will mean an end to the Uber you know and love today". The company asked passengers to sign a petition protesting the proposed changes, warning of mandatory five minute wait times "even if a car is available just around the corner". This will mean that rather than opening the app and immediately being able to see cars that are nearby, you won't be able to see any real-time vehicle whereabouts on the app.
"We understand that black cab drivers are feeling the pressure from services like Uber," the company said in its appeal. "But the answer is to level the playing field by reducing today's burdensome black cab regulators -- not to introduce rules that will be bad for riders, drivers and London."
For its part, TfL wants to set standards for the private hire industry, and left the door open to input from the public.
"No final decisions have been made and we're keen to hear a range of views from the trade and from Londoners too," said Garrett Emmerson, TfL's chief operating officer for surface transport, in a statement.