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Uber alles.. NOT: Berlin bans taxi ride app over 'safety' fears

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Taxi app Uber has been banned in Berlin after the German capital's government said the service violated passenger safety regulations.

Officials said in a statement that Uber faces €25,000 fines for each violation of the ban, and drivers using the app will face €20,000 penalties. Uber says it plans to challenge the injunction.

Just last month, Hamburg banned the taxi-hailing app because its drivers "are not properly licensed". Uber drivers in that city face a €1,000 fine.

The VC-funded, San Francisco-headquartered booking app firm has faced opposition from taxi authorities, city officials and angry cabbies all over the world.

Authorities are finding that existing taxi regulations don't allow them to manage the car-ride booking app, which some argue operates as an unlicensed taxi service.

London transport authority TfL recently abandoned a legal battle to determine whether Uber drivers are subject to taxi regulations. Seattle, meanwhile, has opted to put a cap on the number of drivers the service is allowed to have operating.

In New York, State officials intervened to prevent runaway service charges in an emergency. Uber uses a sliding scale based on demand, which could have led to price spikes during natural disasters, for example.

As cabbies across the world – many of whom pay hefty fees for their licences and see the app as a business killer – continue to protest against the $17bn firm, the car-booking company is also fighting accusations from rival taxi apper Lyft, which alleged that Uber staff had deliberately ordered Lyft rides and then cancelled them. Uber has denied this. ®

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