Uber first launched in Norway at the end of last year. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
Police in Oslo are to prosecute their first Uber driver after stopping him over the weekend for carrying paying passengers without a license.
The arrest, which followed a warning from police, makes Norway the latest country in Europe to crack down on the controversial taxi app.
The city's police stopped two cars in the city centre on the weekend, at least one of which was operating as part of the US based Uber taxi app.
“The vehicles have received driving bans under The Professional Transport Act,” Finn Erik Grønli, the head of the Oslo Traffic Police, told Aftenposten. “This is because the drivers did not have permission to drive passengers for remuneration.”
Grønli said that the police were continuing to investigate the case and had yet to decide whether to push for further sanctions.
“The rules on carrying passengers for remuneration apply to everyone,” he said. “We do not distinguish between the traditional pirate taxi business and Uber when it comes to having the necessary permits. The pirate taxi business is an old issue that we are cracking down on, and Uber is just a new operator in that market.”
Daniel Bryne, Uber's press officer told Aftenposten that the company believed that Uber drivers, which are vetted by the company and operate under strict guidelines, should not be treated under the law as pirate taxi operators.
“We are surprised at the police's actions, and are standing firmly behind the driver,” he said. “We believe that this is contrary to Norwegian case law, which was confirmed in the judgment in the Haxi case in Stavanger in June.”
Uber is facing continuing crack downs from governments across Europe, with France's constitutional court last month confirming a ban on the company's UberPop service, as two of its French executives face criminal prosecution for operating an illegal taxi service.
The company faces a criminal investigation in The Netherlands, while in London its drivers face onerous new regulations.
Uber was banned in Spain in December, and has been banned twice in Germany.