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I love the smell of the Streisand Effect in the morning

March 8, 2014

And this could be a very amusing instance of it. This article appeared at TechDirt.

Houston Issues ‘Cease-And-Desist’ To Uber To Stop Houston Residents From Communicating With Their Government

We’ve covered for a while now how Uber — the mobile phone-enabled car/taxi ordering service — has run up against a bunch of obsolete laws in various cities, often leading to bizarre rebuttals from municipal officials. Uber quickly realized that each ridiculous response from a city government was something of a marketing opportunity to introduce itself to new cities. You would think, by now, city officials would learn that the proper thing to do is figure out how to work with Uber to provide better transportation for their citizenry, rather than immediately bowing to demands from taxi/limo companies who fear potential competition.

However, the response from Houston may be the most bizarre of all. Uber had set up a petition for Houston residents, emailing city officials of their support for allowing Uber in that city. In response to this, the city of Houston issued a cease-and-desist, effectively telling Uber to stop asking Houston residents to contact their own elected government about this issues any more.

[Letter from Houston’s City Attorney, David Feldman, omitted.]

It’s ridiculous for Feldman to argue that citizens contacting their own elected officials is a form of harassment and somehow illegal. And, of course, the end result of this is that it just drives that much more attention to the issue (and probably even more emails).

And here’s the response Uber itself has posted.

HOUSTON GOV’T TO VOTERS: STOP TELLING US WHAT YOU THINK

Over the past three days, nearly 10,000 Houston residents and visitors have signed a petition demanding that Mayor Parker and the City Council make way for modern transportation options like Uber.

And how has the city responded? The City Attorney has issued a cease and desist order against its own constituents. That’s right, the City of Houston has demanded that Houstonians stop emailing the Mayor and the City Council.

WE WON’T CEASE OR DESIST #HOUSTONNEEDSUBER
 
Your emails of support for legislative efforts to modernize the city’s transportation system – and the city’s reaction – call a very important question: Are Houston’s elected leaders beholden to their constituents, or to incumbent industry?

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