On December 9th, the Madrid Court number 2 ruled that Uber is illegal in Spain and 'unfair competition'. Some days ago, the same judge urged the top telecommunication companies in Spain to "suspend any data transmission, storage, access and/or any other equivalent service that provides support to that company", effective immediately.
Apart from unfair competition, the judge also stressed that the reason for such strong precautionary measures was because the company is incorporated in a 'tax haven', that being Delaware (US).
The Uber site went down on December 27th and is still inaccesible in Spain. How was the ruling enforced? The telecommunication operators enabled an indiscriminate DNS blockage of all things Uber.
Uber has had a long history of ignoring the law in Spain, with a wide range of consequences, but the shutting down of the service via enforced censorship is outrageous.
Many people are speechless in Spain. It's one of the first times a high-profile website is being censored in the country. The precedent is extremely alarming and demonstrates the lack of digital education of the country's legal system.
While from a legal perspective Uber is, indeed, guilty as charged, a system-wide blockade is called censorship. The situation resembles the nation-wide bans of Twitter in Turkey at the beginning of the year, something that the European Commissioner said "raised concerns about the country's commitment to European values".
The problem is, the service that's illegal in Spain is UberPop, not any other service from the company. Censoring the website restricts access to the flow of information, including official communications on the Uber blog or the use of other legal services from the company.
It's also fascinating that the judge's decision was influence by the fact that Uber is a Delaware corporation. It clearly ignores the fact that most US corporations are Delaware entities, including Apple, Google or Coca-Cola.
This new incident comes on the wake of the massive misstep of the Spanish government with the so called "Google Tax" and the consequent removal of Google News in Spain, which is estimated to have dropped traffic to news outlets by 10-15%.
Once again, the current situation depicts a clear image of a country struggling with the digital world and the blatant incompetence of the government when it comes to dealing with such issues.
Featured image credit: Mikhail Zahranichny / Shutterstock