It seems that people in London are not happy with the decision of the Transport for London to remove Uber’s licence in the capital after more than 500,000 people signed a petition compelling them to reverse the ban.
On the Change.org website, Save Your Uber in London was set up after the firm’s announcement that it would not have its licence renewed after expires on the 30th of September.
24 hours after the decision was revealed to the public on Friday morning, the petition quickly collected more than half a million signatures.
Citizen from London took to Twitter to share their views regarding the announcement shortly after it was made. Some even posted hilarious memes.
The UK director at Change.org, Kajal Odedra, stated: “That is the fastest growing petition we’ve seen in the UK this year.
“The speed with which this grew shows how powerful online campaigning can be.
“In just 24 hours we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people start and sign petitions on either side of the Uber/TFL debate.
“Sites like Change.org show how quickly the voices of ordinary citizens can become part of a debate between corporations and Government departments – a debate that previously would be held behind closed doors.”
Uber, which is patronised by around 3.5 million people and 40,000 drivers in London, has struck back, saying it will appeal. It also claimed that the move “would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies.”
A union that is representing Uber drivers stated that its members risk going bust as they depend on money from fares to pay for their cars.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said that he wants London to be “at the forefront of innovation and new technology.” However, he insisted that companies should “play by the rules”.
The move is part of a general push to strengthen the Kremlin’s hand in dealing with anything online, having already allowed its state watchdog to blacklist websites without a court order and outlawed services that disguise a user’s Internet Service Provider address.
A law yet to be fully enforces but ratified in 2013 demands that all companies that handle Russians’ personal data, submit their servers, at least temporarily, to the jurisdiction of Russian authorities. Google data shows that over the last year the Russian government has flagged and requested the removal of more content on YouTube and any other Google services than all other countries in the world put together.
Looking at who the Kremlin’s enemies at home are—popular bloggers, tech savvy activists and followers of anti-corruption investigator Alexey Navalny who posts his work on YouTube—it is easy to see why.
In 2016 his documentary about the alleged financial dealings of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earned millions of views and launched two mass waves of protests. The judiciary has since ordered the video to be removed.
One thing the government cannot manage to ban, however, is meme-sharing online. Navalny’s jibe in 2011 that President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party is just a crowd of “crooks and thieves” has become shorthand in the meme-focused language of the internet. Other images like Zhdun—a humanoid manatee that symbolises indefinite waiting—have become viral phenomenons that many Russians share to criticize stagnation and government inaction.
“Very often you can see that politically active users in Russia, they turn to memes to say something that cannot be said in the public sphere,” Denisova says. “Words are still powerful. Symbols are powerful because they really stick to your memory and to your mind, and memes are one of those things.” “Can you really change public opinion by the means of memes? I’m not sure about that. But it is a good way to keep your mind sane, as many people say in Russia, and to keep the discussion going, even in a very limited social network conversation.”