Uber trapped in legal limbo in South Korea

Taxi service Uber is quickly being embroiled in legal limbo in South Korea as the state and city government have both filed criminal suits against the company for breaking local laws.

The Korea Communication Commission (KCC), the nation's telco watchdog, reported taxi-hailing company Uber to local prosecutors on Thursday for violating location information protection law, which market watchers say is a move by the nation to expel the company from the country altogether.

The related law states that businesses launching services that use location information must report to related authorities, and KCC claims that Uber didn't comply despite continuing controversy over the legality of its service in Seoul.

Seoul's city council has already filed suit against the cab service for violating the nation's transportation law, which states that only those with taxi licences may operate a cab. It has labelled Uber's services as "illegal", and in December last year said it will offer rewards to those who report the company's activities.

Uber provides customers' smartphone GPS location to drivers. A senior KCC executive said that while the convergence of IT and existing services can bring convenience to consumers, without proper legal and administrative processes, that convenience cannot be provided continually.

Seoul's Taxi union has also strongly protested against the service, and has asked the company to be punished.

Despite the heat, Uber has continued providing its app and services, and is continuing to recruit drivers. Its users have also sent spam mails to council members of Seoul.

Uber's Korea office officially launched in August 2013. A spokesman for the company said that it will comply with local laws as much as possible, but is yet to prepare an official statement regarding the latest development.

Source: ZDNet.co.kr

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