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Monday, 2 April 2018

What were the objections of the Council of State on the Ride-Hailing Apps?

LEGISLATION WATCH- Why does the Council of State have reservations about the Ride-Hailing Apps Act? As we noted yesterday, the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) had raised a number of objections to the Ride-Hailing Apps Act, which received preliminary approval from four parliamentary committees over the weekend. The objections, which were cited by Uber in its arguments against the law, had not been incorporated by the Ismail cabinet into the draft bill before sending them to parliament, as is typical. Instead the government submitted counterpoints to these objections.

The most glaring area of concern are provisions that would force companies to share user data with the government. The Council’s legislative committee argued that these articles violate user privacy and are unconstitutional since they do not lay out any extenuating circumstances which require the government to obtain user data. Under the bill, the government would not require a court order to have access to the data, nor does it set a duration for that access, which the Maglis argues is also unconstitutional. The government responded by stating that the articles would be part of the terms and conditions users sign off on before joining the service, thus relinquishing that right, according to Al Mal.

The Council had also raised objections to requiring companies to incorporate taxi drivers into their fleets, saying that this was a burden on the companies and they should not be compelled to organize a parallel ride-hailing sector. The cabinet argued that it gave the companies the freedom to choose how to best incorporate taxis into their fleets.

The Council actually gets the concept of the sharing economy: Some of the Maglis’ objections appear to uphold core tenets of the sharing economy, with one going so far as to say that the law lacks a clear vision for organizing the ride-hailing space. One of them argues that obliging ride-hailing companies to pay social insurance on drivers goes against the nature of the sharing economy, which does not see drivers as employees. The Social Solidarity Ministry responded by stating it will allow drivers who own their own cars to obtain social insurance through the National Social Insurance Agency.

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