The Uruguayan Antitrust Commission, after a series of legal and
technical reports, just decided for Uber in a case originally filed
by the Uruguay Taxi Owners Union ("Patronal").
Decision 93 on the one hand rejected the Taxi Owners Union claim
against Uber and concluded that Uber's business model had no
anticompetitive elements and does not violate any of the laws or
regulations under the Antirust Commission's jurisdiction. Even
more significantly, the Antitrust Commission took the initiative,
at Uber's request, to issue non-binding recommendations to
Congress and local governments to seek pro-competitive regulation
in all regulatory frameworks related to this market, pursue equal
treatment for all interested parties, avoid unjustified
requirements or entry barriers that may jeopardize new agents'
access, and ensure its regulations are not an obstacle for the
development of new business models.
Decision 93 was picked up immediately by the press and mass
media because of the far-reaching implications in a situation that
has been on the front pages almost constantly since Uber started
operations last November. A cabinet meeting the following day
devoted significant time to assessing the decision.
Uber was a success in the Uruguayan market as from day one and
had been seeking to be formally admitted so that the drivers using
the application can operate legitimately and pay their taxes, as
well as not be the brunt of discrimination. Although the highly
influential taxi owners lobby initially managed to rally the
political system behind prohibiting Uber from operating, and
aggressive measures were taken both at the local and national
level, Uruguay's strong tradition as a software powerhouse soon
started to create cracks in this consensus. Leaders of the software
and digital economy sector started voicing their concerns about the
risk of jeopardizing both Uruguay's image as a high-tech
jurisdiction and also their concrete business goals. The Antitrust
Commission decision puts the discussion back on how to maximize
consumer welfare with regulatory environments that do not hijack
new developments and business models under regulations made decades
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