California legislators go after Uber, Lyft

By James Poulos | Cal Watchdog

A new bill will determine whether California remains the world leader in innovative technology — or starts to block progress.

Assembly Bill 2293, by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, would severely limit the ability of startup companies to use social networking technology to link passengers with independent, licensed drivers. The startups, such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar, don’t actually own the cars, only the linking technology.

Though their approaches vary, the services amount to a high-tech version of ride-sharing, as when a college student puts up a sign on a bulletin board, “Driving from S.F. to L.A., need passenger to share gas costs.”

In these new services, a passenger uses an application — or “app” — on his smart phone or computer to set up a ride with the independent car and driver. The tech company charges a fee.

But the new services directly compete with taxis, who are seeking legislative protectionism. AB2293′s weapon is insurance law.

at Cal Watchdog.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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