After protests, TLC revises rules for apps

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New York City no longer wants to require companies like Uber and Lyft to get pre-approval before modifying their apps, so long as they’re still abiding by the law, according to a revised set of rules proposed by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission on Wednesday.

The rules would only require apps to notify the city of modifications, a reversal from an earlier proposal that required pre-approval, enraged Uber and caused an uproar among its Silicon Valley allies.

The T.L.C. made other changes, too.

No longer does the city want to require that apps give regulators devices for testing purposes (Uber memorably argued the proposed rule could theoretically require the company to buy Apple watches for city officials).

Also, the rules would no longer explicitly allow taxi regulators to punish all of an app’s subsidiaries, if one of them is found to have violated the law. (The city believes that provision is no longer necessary because it can achieve the same effect through existing regulations.)

In a statement, Uber New York general manager Josh Mohrer hailed the revised proposal, which he said would “allow tech innovation to continue making New York City’s transportation system more progressive for all riders and drivers and ensure that drivers and passengers are protected.”

The T.L.C. promulgated the rules earlier this year, as part of a broader effort to license for-hire apps, of which there are as many as 75 in New York City.

Like the earlier version, the rules released Wednesday would allow apps to operate in New York City without having to buy a black or livery car company or reach a contract with one.

After promulgating the rules, the T.L.C. endured a fierce blowback from tech companies.

As many as 42 percent of all for-hire vehicles (black and livery cars) can be booked by app.

As of March, there were more Uber cars than yellow taxis.

The rules still require full board approval.

“Working through service providers’ operational issues, while helping them to fully appreciate the TLC’s safety and consumer protection imperatives, has been a positive and collaborative process,” taxi commissioner Meera Joshi said in a statement. “If approved, the proposed rules will further the TLC’s goals of safety, accountability, transparency, and availability, and help us to ensure that these protections are in place whether you get into a green, yellow or black car, which you have summoned by hail, phone, app, or any other means.”

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