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FTC Chimes In On Proposed D.C. Taxicab Regulations

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A federal agency is taking issue with the way the D.C. Taxicab Commission is dealing with taxi-hailing smart phone apps.

The Federal Trade Commission says the proposed rules governing smartphone apps may stifle competition in D.C.'s growing vehicle-for-hire industry.

In written comments submitted to the D.C. Taxicab Commission, the FTC recommends that the agency avoid "unwarranted regulatory restrictions." Tech companies like Uber Taxi and mytaxi are complaining about a new rule requiring they integrate their app systems with whatever credit card payment machines taxi drivers install in their vehicles by a September 1 deadline.

The FTC says is also concerned the proposals, designed to protect passengers from fraud, will be cumbersome.

In a statement, Chairman Ron Linton says the Taxicab Commission appreciates the comments from the FTC. "We believe the intent of the proposed regulations will allow the market to determine the selection of taxi services," he said.

But Uber, which has tussled with D.C. regulators before, cheered the FTC's comments.

“The FTC has recognized that there are serious problems with the D.C. Taxi Commission’s proposed regulations that would limit consumer choice in the District and impose unprecedented technological barriers. It’s time for the DCTC to listen to the overwhelming opinion of the DC Council, District residents, and the FTC, and to stop trying to hamstring innovative transportation options like Uber," said the company in a statement.

Earlier this week D.C. Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) also cautioned the proposed rules may stifle innovation and harm consumer choice.

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