Uber's Amsterdam office raided by Dutch authorities

Uber keeps operating its UberPop service despite a court ban and €100,000 in fines

Uber keeps crashing into laws and regulations in Europe, but it's keeping the foot on the accelerator.

Following raids in Belgium and France, Dutch authorities raided Uber's Amsterdam office on Thursday as part of an investigation into the ride-hailing service UberPop, which a court ruled illegal in the Netherlands.

The raid's main goal is to obtain records that show the size of the UberPop operation, a spokeswoman for the DutchHuman Environment and Transport Inspectorate said, adding that the authority, for instance, wants to find out the number of UberPop drivers. The raid is still ongoing and is being conducted by the inspectorate in cooperation with the police.

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Via a mobile app, UberPop, operated by Uber, connects users looking for a ride with drivers using their own private cars, and the fees are often much lower than taxi fares. This practice is illegal in the Netherlands and was banned last year by a Dutch court, which ruled that the service unfairly competes with strictly regulated taxi services.

Uber has been flouting the ban, despite being fined €10,000 (about US$11,000) for every violation. The fines had a maximum threshold of €100,000, which was quickly reached.

Flouting the ban has led to an angry response from taxi drivers in the Netherlands, who have at times followed and threatened UberPop drivers, according to local media that called the escalating situation a "taxi war."

For similar reasons as in the Netherlands, UberPop was also banned in other European countries including France, Belgium and Germany. As part of investigations into UberPop, Uber's offices in Brussels and Paris were raided by authorities earlier this month.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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