Uber is officially a transport company and not a digital service, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.
The ride-hailing firm argued it was an information society service – helping people to make contact with each other electronically – and not a cab firm.
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The case arose after Uber was told to obey local taxi rules in Barcelona.
Uber said the verdict would make little difference to the way it operated in Europe, but experts say the case could have implications for the gig economy.
An Uber spokesperson said: “This ruling will not change things in most EU countries where we already operate under transportation law.