Taiwan is currently in the midst of a war with the ever-controversial ridesharing service. In a nutshell, the dispute is over taxes. According to Reuters, Uber has classified itself as a technology company rather than a transportation provider, which has had the effect of lowering its tax bill within the country.
The Taiwanese authorities believe that this is a mis-representation of its service, and wants the company to pay back-taxes.
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In an unusual step, the Government of Taiwan intends to ask Apple and Google to remove the Uber app from their respective app stores, for users based in the country. This would also extend to the removal of the UberEATS app, which only just launched in Taiwan.
According to a spokesman for Taiwan’s Directorate General of Highways, which is handling this dispute, “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).”
This isn’t the first time that Uber has had issues with the local authorities. In 2014, it was banned in Spain after a series of protests by taxi associations. Recent changes to the rules in London have forced the company to open a call center and for its drivers to take an English test, which the company is challenging. In the Netherlands, police actually launched a criminal investigation into its activities.
But this is an entirely new tactic.
It’s unclear if Google or Apple will acquiesce to the demands of the local government. Even if they did, it’s not certain if it will be effective.
There’s going to be million of people who already have the app installed on their phones. And on the Android front, people will be able to circumvent the ban by downloading an APK of the Uber app from unofficial sources.