Uber Gets The Green Light In Boston, With Help From The Governor’s Office

Yesterday, we reported that Uber had came under fire from the Division of Standards of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, receiving a cease and desist letter that sought to shut down its operations in the Greater Boston area. The issue has since been resolved, with an amended decision saying Uber was “not out of compliance with state law” and free to continue operating.

At the heart of the dispute is Uber’s use of GPS location technology to pick up riders and determine appropriate fares. The Standards Division initially ruled that since the National Institute of Standards and Technology didn’t have guidelines in place for GPS, that Uber couldn’t use the technology for its car service. Despite the cease and desist letter, Uber said it would continue operating in the area, moving “full speed ahead.”

Uber received a lot of backing from local entrepreneurs and even the Governor’s office in the dispute. Jason Henrichs, COO of Perk Street Financial, created an online petition to lobby against the Standards Division for stifling innovation. In less than 24 hours, it received nearly 900 signatures.

Meanwhile, Brendan Ryan, Communications Director for the Governor’s office, wrote on Twitter earlier today that Governor Deval Patrick was committed to keeping Uber running in the Greater Boston area while a resolution was worked out. Soon after, Patrick retweeted, throwing his own weight behind it. Ryan also admitted that Uber is “very popular” in the Governor’s office, and had used the service himself the night before.

No doubt thanks to their support, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation issued an amended decision on the issue, with a ruling to keep Uber up and running. In a statement entitled “Massachusetts Gives Green Light for Uber Technologies,” it wrote:

“Recently, the Division of Standards informed Uber that the device they use to calculate fare and distance needs to be certified by a national standard setting organization and, until that process began, the device could not be used in Massachusetts. The Division has since learned that this device is already being evaluated for certification by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Because of this, the Division will issue an operating certificate to Uber. Therefore, Uber is currently not out of compliance with state law and free to continue operating.”

The swift resolution of the Boston dispute is likely a welcome outcome for Uber, which is getting used to facing scrutiny from local governments it starts operating in. It received a cease and desist in San Francisco at launch, and was nearly subject to an amendment proposed by the Washington, D.C. city council that would have set a floor price for private cars, but was later shelved.