Uber Drivers In Brazil Protest Proposed Ride-Sharing Regulations

Proposed legislation would make ride-sharing drivers subject to the same rules as taxi drivers

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File

Taxi drivers have protested Uber because they view the ride-sharing service as unfair competition. But this time it's the Uber drivers who are up in arms.

Hundreds of Uber drivers took to the streets in Brazil Monday to protest proposed new regulations they view as too restrictive, reports Reuters. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi also went to Brazil to personally lobby against the regulations, which are being proposed in a bill that Brazil's Senate is set to vote on Tuesday.

Uber and its drivers are concerned that the legislation would force ride-hailing drivers to follow the same stricter rules as taxi drivers. About 800 Uber drivers reportedly turned out to protest the measure in Brazil's capital Brasilia, and similar protests were staged in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Uber said it did not organize the protests, but did alert authorities to them.

The bill has already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Brazilian Congress. It would classify ride-sharing services as public transit, subjecting them to additional taxes and regulations, including requirements that drivers get special government permits, and that cars carry taxi license plates.

Increased regulations and licensing requirements would run counter to Uber's business model, which uses part-time drivers who view the service as a side gig. But many current Uber drivers work for the service more or less full time, eroding the distinction between drivers for ride-hailing services and traditional taxi drivers. The popularity of ride-hailing services has also led regulators around the world to consider stricter rules.

Uber lost its London operator license at the end of September due to regulatory concerns ranging from background check policies to the way Uber reported crimes committed by its drivers. The Philippines temporarily suspended Uber for accepting applications for new drivers during a government-mandated hiring freeze. Stricter driver training rules in the Canadian province of Quebec led to complaints from Uber. 

Brazil is Uber's third largest market, with 17 million users and 500,000 drivers. Sao Paulo accounts for more trips than any other city in the world, according to the company.