Government walks back plan to block Uber and other online taxi apps

Jul 22, 2019 | 27 comments

After saying it would consider blocking Uber and Cabify taxi apps to Ecuador internet users, the government said Monday that such a blockage was not possible.

Telecom Minister Andres Michelena

When he met with striking taxi drivers last week in Quito, Deputy Minister of Transport Iván Carvallo said he would ask the Ministry of Telecommunications to investigate the possibility of putting a block on internet taxi apps but Andrés Michelena, telecom minister, said such a move would violate contractual agreements with internet providers. In addition, he said it would be impossible to stop communications between Uber and Cabify drivers and their headquarters because the government does not control the radio spectrum on which the companies operate.

“The transportation ministry will have to find other mechanisms, such as legislation, to deal with the problem,” Michelena said.

The suggestion of blocking internet and radio access of taxi apps drew an angry response from both Uber and business leaders. “Does Ecuador want to follow the example of North Korea, China and Russia in controlling internet access? Is that the plan?” asked entrepreneurial studies professor Ramon Marti at the University of Guayaquil. “It is time the taxi owners and the government accept the reality of 21st century technology and adapt. It’s time to abandon the outdated protectionist system that has operated in Ecuador for decades and to accept the international trends that are coming whether we want them to or not.”

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