Uber Collects Online Signatures To Battle Regulatory Shutdown In Chicago

In its effort to challenge proposed regulations that would lead to the shutdown of its black car service in Chicago, Uber is trying to recruit supporters via an online petition at Change.org.

The petition, which you can read (and if you’re so inclined, sign) here, is titled: “Chicago BACP: Don’t Kill Uber! Remove the No Measured Rates Provision.” The problems, according to both the petition and earlier statements from the company, lie in sections that prohibit limo companies from using electronic measurement devices and the use of time- or distance-based charges. Uber’s argument: Limo companies in Chicago already charge this way, they’re just doing it with less precision. So the petition is asking for Chicago regulators to drop the rules.

Allen Penn, the general manager of Uber Chicago, told me that the petition launched yesterday, and thus far, the company has focused on promoting the petition to people in Chicago, rather than the full Uber user base — though it will be expanding its efforts throughout the week. The company is shooting for 5,000 signatures total, and as of 5:50 p.m. Pacific, the petition had around 1,900.

Penn said that Uber’s initial blog post saw support in other ways, with over 1,000 shares on Facebook and up to 1,000 tweets to the mayor’s office in the first day alone. However, politicians who aren’t forward-thinking about tech and social media will probably be more impressed by the petition than by Facebook sharing stats. It also illustrates that this isn’t just Uber fighting regulations, but also customers, drivers, and others interested in Chicago’s culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. And Penn noted that the petition is a gateway to further participation — for example, when you sign the petition, Change.org can also shoot off an email to the mayor and other politicians.

“We feel like we have an obligation to let our clients know that this is going on, and that you can have a voice in this,” he said.

Uber also found some success with this approach in Washington, D.C., where Uber has also run afoul of regulators, but also managed to muster some political support.

The comment period on the new regulations closes on Friday, November 9, with the outcome announced at an indeterminate point after that, Penn said.