Summary:

The Massachusetts Division of Standards says there is no accepted standard for using GPS devices to set the price of transportation, and Uber should stop operating in the greater Boston area until such a standard emerges. Uber says it will forge ahead.

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The Uber car service says it has been told to stop operating in the Boston metropolitan area. The issue stems from a complaint filed in Cambridge, Mass. that holds that there are no standards for the use of GPS devices in this context. Uber customers use their smartphones to summon the car service.

According to the Massachusetts Division of Standards, “there are no established measurement standards for [GPS's] current application and use in determining transportation costs similar to that of  approved measurement systems in taximeters and odometers.” The decision came after a “sting” operation snagged Uber in Cambridge.

Uber disclosed the news in its blog along with its response:

In essence the [Massachusetts] Division of Standards is claiming that until the National Institute of Standards and Technology has guidelines in place for GPS location technology, we cannot provide our application to the public. As we did extensive legal research prior to entering the city of Boston, it is our strong belief that the technology and service we offer does not violate existing law and regulations.

It’s not the first time Uber has faced trouble entering a new city — it got flak the taxi and limo commission in Washington, D.C. six months ago. Some in the Boston area suspect that complaints from local cab companies are at the root of this latest issue as well. Uber launched its service, which lets users summon a private car via a smartphone app, in San Francisco and is now available in 14 U.S. cities.

One commenter on the Uber blog wrote:

There. Aren’t. Enough. Cabs. In. This. City.  And the ones that are have drivers who get pissed when you try to use a *gasp* credit card. Not to mention, Boston cabs are the most expensive in NORTH AMERICA.

Uber could not be reached for comment, but it appears that the service continues. According to the blog:

Uber will continue full speed ahead with the mission of making Boston and the surrounding areas a great place to live and travel and the Commonwealth the Hub of cutting edge technology.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ambernectar 13

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