Uber hits more roadblocks -- this time in Thailand, Spain

Transportation official in Thailand says the ride-sharing service does not use licensed vehicles, while a judge in Spain says Uber drivers lack official authorization.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

Uber operates a wide range of services around the world, including its low-cost UberX. Uber

Ride-sharing service Uber can't catch a break.

Just a day after Uber was banned from India's capital territory of Delhi after the report of an alleged rape, both Thailand and Spain on Tuesday said Uber's service is illegally operating in their countries.

In Thailand, at issue is the types of Uber uses to ferry people from place to place. Uber is using private cars rather than licensed taxis in violation of the country's laws, Thailand's Land Transport department head Teerapong Rodprasert told The Wall Street Journal. He added that using mobile applications to hail properly registered vehicles is legal in Thailand.

Uber launched its service in Thailand in February and then expanded it to the country's resort island of Phuket last month. Uber said it will hold conversations with transportation officials in Thailand.

"Uber respects the Department of Land Transportation and its important role as the key regulator on vehicle-for-hire transport in Thailand," Uber spokeswoman Karus Arya said. "We look forward to continued conversations with the DLT to bring our innovative transportation solutions within the appropriate regulatory framework in Thailand."

Other countries in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and Singapore, are also scrutinizing the service to determine if it is operating illegally, reported the Journal.

Also today, a judge in Spain ordered Uber to end all operations in the country, reported Spanish newspaper El Pais. Uber drivers have no official authorization to operate the service and are competing unfairly with licensed taxi drivers, a mercantile court judge in Madrid said in a writ. It's a refrain Uber has faced from the country's Madrid Taxi Association, which has filed a lawsuit against the ride-sharing service.

Bans in Thailand and Spain add even more fuel to the a fire that continues to rage for the five-year-old, San Francisco-based Uber. The company continues to face legal challenges from governments and taxi companies around the world, while recent controversies over safety and privacy have tarnished its reputation.

On Monday, the Delhi government banned Uber from the city after a woman alleged that she was sexually assaulted and beaten by an Uber driver after requesting a car late Friday night. A transportation official for the city said Uber is "misleading customers" and allowing drivers to operate with out proper permits.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick called the alleged assault "despicable" and pledged to support the victim, as well as work with Indian officials establish appropriate procedures for who can operate transportation services.

Uber's troubles aren't limited to foreign cities. On Friday Uber began operations in Portland, Ore., even though city officials have deemed the service illegal. Officials there said they're ready to issue civil and criminal penalties against the company and its drivers. Last month, Uber shut down its service in Nevada over "confusion" about its business model, as it looks for a legal way to resume business in the state.

Despite all the setbacks, Uber said its service is being embraced in all of the cities where its service is available -- including Thailand. Last week, Uber announced it raised a $1.2 billion round of funding that could put its total valuation as high as $40 billion. Already operating in more than 250 cities in 50 countries, Uber plans to use the new funding to move into new markets in the Asia Pacific region.

"Over the past few months, more and more Thai people have been cruising the streets of Bangkok and Phuket, using Uber platform and they are loving the experience," Arya said.