Uber is not having an easy time here in Italy. The legislator never gave the green light to Uber Pop, while a temporary ban on Uber Black was placed on the 7th of April, only to be lifted on the 26th of May. Taking a ride with Uber Black is therefore perfectly legal, even though taxi drivers have decorated the city of Rome with signs designed to scare tourists with the existence of imaginary fines.
Unfortunately, the taxi lobby in Italy is as strong as their members are bad at driving. Both left and right wing parties portray evil corporations trying to ruin the lives of taxi drivers with their unfair competition. The reality is quite different: taxi licenses, which were issued free of charge by the city council, are now worth more than 100K and are being traded illegally, creating a powerful lobby of rent seekers who don’t mind making some noise to defend their position. Uber and similar apps can actually be considered the “socialist” alternative, as they allow anyone to enter the market and earn some extra income (very useful in a country with youth unemployment above 40%) while at the same time reducing taxi fares for consumers.
Despite all the claims of the taxi drivers, Uber Black is completely legal and the 6000 euro fine just an invention. It is normal for rent seekers to fight the disruptions that technological progress brings about – taxi drivers are already fighting driverless cars – but fortunately history has proven that they are rarely successful.