Brazil Softens Ride-Sharing Regulations After Uber Lobbies Against Them

The South American country is one of Uber's largest markets. 

Uber Technologies Inc. Electric Car Taxi Service In Madrid
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After driver protests and a visit from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Brazil pulled back on proposed regulations for ride-sharing services. A bill passed by Brazil's Senate includes some new rules, but is weaker than the original version, reports Reuters.

Uber feared that, in its original form, the bill would make it too difficult for it to operate in Brazil, its third largest market. The bill originally included provisions requiring drivers to get special government permits, drive only cars they owned, and use the same red license plates as Brazilian taxis.

The revised bill drops the requirements that drivers use their own cars and obtain taxi license plates. But it still subjects drivers to licensing and taxation rules set by local city governments. Because of the revisions, the bill must go back to the lower house of Brazil's Congress for re-approval.

"In the past we were a bit aggressive, but we have to understand that it's not just about what we want and reach compromises," Khosrowshahi said in an interview with Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. "We are not against regulation. Regulating services like Uber is totally appropriate."

Uber has faced more pressure from regulators recently, including having its London operator license pulled at the end of September. Uber maintains that its driver corps is primarily made up of part-timers who will be forced out of work by stricter rules. But city officials see Uber and other ride-sharing services being used more like taxi services, and want to regulate them accordingly.

The controversy was clearly displayed in Brazil, where both Uber operators and taxi drivers took to the streets. Uber drivers protested the bill, which they view as a threat to their way of working. Taxi drivers, who were bused into the capital of Brasilia by unions, claimed the bill levels the playing field by subjecting ride-sharing drivers to the same regulations they have to comply with. These clashes are likely to continue as ride sharing grows in popularity.