According to Mashable, Finland isn’t the best place to be an Uber driver right now. Drivers in Finland are under criminal investigation and facing possible prosecution over taxi permit regulations, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The investigations are part of a police crackdown against Uber drivers who don’t have the right permits. About 50 drivers are currently under investigation, Bloomberg reported.
The problem started with UberPop, Uber’s unlicensed ride-sharing branch in Europe. Like in UberX, UberPop drivers use their own cars. But UberPop is meant to operate without the regulations surrounding private-hire drivers that apply to UberX and regular Uber. UberPop drivers instead need just a regular driver’s license, a car, a background screening and checks for insurance.
Even though Uber treats UberPop as an unlicensed peer-to-peer platform, that doesn’t mean Finnish police see it the same way. Police officers in Helsinki, Bloomberg reported, have been pulling over UberPop drivers and finding that they don’t have the correct licenses, never mind Uber’s own view on whether that license is required. UberPop has been challenged by governments all over Europe. The low-cost service has been banned or suspended in France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Hungary. In Paris, UberPop was the reason for violent protests a year ago where registered taxi drivers blocked roads, flipped cars and lit fires in the street.
The investigations in Finland come amid proposals to change the regulations surrounding ride-sharing in the country. „It’s disappointing that there’s a return to enforcement just when modern ridesharing regulation is being prepared by the Ministry of Transport for the Finnish Government,“ Uber said in a statement. „That new regulation is clearly needed with more than 100,000 Finns having downloaded Uber.” Helsinki is the only Finnish city where Uber says it operates. Neither the Uber Helsinki page nor Twitter account have mentioned the investigations by Finnish police.