Update: Uber's Amsterdam office raided by Dutch authorities

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Uber keeps crashing into laws and regulations in Europe, but it's keeping the foot on the accelerator.

Following raids in Belgium and France, Dutch authorities raided Uber's Amsterdam office on Thursday as part of an investigation into the ride-hailing service UberPop, which a court ruled illegal in the Netherlands.

The raid's main goal is to obtain records that show the size of the UberPop operation, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate said, adding that the authority, for instance, wants to find out the number of UberPop drivers. The raid is still ongoing and is being conducted by the inspectorate in cooperation with the police.

A mobile app, UberPop, operated by Uber, connects users looking for a ride with drivers using their own private cars, and the fees are often much lower than taxi fares. This practice is illegal in the Netherlands and was banned last year by a Dutch court, which ruled that the service unfairly competes with strictly regulated taxi services.

Uber has been flouting the ban, despite being fined €10,000 (about $11,000) for every violation. The fines had a maximum threshold of €100,000, which was quickly reached.

Flouting the ban has led to an angry response from taxi drivers in the Netherlands, who have at times followed and threatened UberPop drivers, according to local media that called the escalating situation a "taxi war."

An Uber spokesman confirmed the presence of Dutch transport inspectors in the company's Netherlands office, but characterized their arrival as a visit.

"This is the second time in a week that Dutch transport inspectors have visited our Amsterdam office," he said via email, adding that the company has been "surprised" at the authorities' efforts to intervene in the operation of UberPop.

Uber will continue operating UberPop in the Netherlands, as it seeks a solution "that benefits both parties," he said.

"We are encouraged by the wider policy developments taking place in the Netherlands, where we feel there is a shared vision about what the future of mobility should look like," he added.

For similar reasons as in the Netherlands, UberPop was also banned in other European countries including France, Belgium and Germany. As part of investigations into UberPop, Uber's offices in Brussels and Paris were raided by authorities earlier this month.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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