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Seoul to block Uber taxi application

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By Kim Se-jeong

Uber app
Uber app
Seoul will block the app-based ridesharing service Uber, calling it an illegal "call taxi" business.

"We are consulting with the Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) to cut off the Uber app, which is unregistered," Choi Eul-ko, a Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) official, told The Korea Times. All apps are required to be registered with the KCSC.

"Uber users can fall victim to crimes. Vehicles used in the service are rented, meaning that users don't have any protection if the vehicle is in an accident.

The city's move comes amid global protests by cab drivers against the app.

"We have visited Uber's registered office in Samseong-dong, but it didn't exist. We've tried to call them, but they haven't answered," another city official said asking not to be named.

Uber's business model violates the Korea's Passenger Transport Services Act which only allows registered companies to offer call taxi services, the official said.

Based on a complaint from the SMG, the prosecution is currently investigating the service.

A car rental agency has been fined for providing Uber with too many vehicles. Choi hopes the prosecution's ongoing investigation will answer any lingering questions about Uber's operations.

The Uber application helps passengers find drivers of vehicles for hire. Vehicles in service are mostly rented, and Uber contracts with the drivers.

The price is said to be almost triple the normal taxi fare, but it is slowly gaining popularity among users because of its luxury vehicles. Founded in San Francisco, the startup launched services in Korea in June of last year.

Uber Technologies has operations in 30 countries, and side effects have been reported.

A newspaper in Atlanta, Ga., in the U.S., reported a female user was robbed by a fake Uber driver earlier this month.

In Virginia, taxi companies filed a lawsuit to stop the company's operations. According to the Washington Post, "Eight Virginia cab companies contend that the drivers who contract with Uber and similar services are ferrying passengers illegally because they lack taxi licenses."

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