NEW DELHI — India has ordered Internet service providers to block the websites of Uber Technologies Inc. and other similar car-hailing companies in New Delhi as they have been operating despite a ban.
In the latest setback to Uber’s rapid expansion in India, the country’s Department of Telecommunications has told ISPs to prevent access to the company’s website, according to a copy of the order issued on May 12, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The department also ordered Internet service providers to block the website of Uber’s main Indian rivals, ANI Technologies Pvt’s Ola and TaxiForSure, which is owned by the same company.
The order, however, stopped short of blocking the firms’ smartphone apps, the main way their customers book cars. On Thursday evening the Uber, Ola and TaxiForSure websites had still not been blocked in New Delhi.
“There are some technical constraints to blocking apps,” in a particular city, said a department of telecommunications official who asked not to be named.
A representative from Uber, and a spokesman for Ola, declined to comment.
Uber, and companies like it, ran into trouble in New Delhi in December when a passenger alleged she had been raped by the driver of a car she booked through Uber. The driver has pleaded innocent in court. His trial is ongoing.
The allegation led state authorities in the capital to ban app-based car-booking services that were running without radio-taxi permits.
After a brief break, Uber restarted operations in the capital in January, saying it was waiting for its radio-taxi license to be processed. Ola has also been operating despite the ban.
The Delhi Transport Department asked the federal government to block the companies apps in March as they were refusing to comply with the ban.
The telecommunications department agreed in part to the department’s request, as India’s Information Technology Act gives it the right to block public access to sites. The order didn’t state under what provision it was invoking the law.
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