City officials decry “excessive number of e-mails”
The City of Houston has issued a “cease and desist” order to prevent its own citizens from contacting their government in order to lobby for the introduction of Uber, a mobile phone-enabled taxi ordering service.
Attempting to tackle the problem of city officials bowing to the demands of taxi/limo companies who fear the threat of competition that Uber will bring, the company invited Houston residents to fill in a petition and send it to city managers encouraging them to consider the introduction of Uber’s service.
The city of Houston responded by issuing a cease and desist order demanding that Uber stop asking Houston residents to contact their own elected representatives.
From: Feldman, David M. – LGL Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:46 AM
To: Miller, Robert
Subject: Uber Cease and Desist
Robert – Please consider this as a formal demand that your client, Uber, cease and desist from transmitting or aiding in the transmission of form e-mails to City officials regarding the adoption of an ordinance to accommodate their enterprise. Despite my informal request to you by telephone on Monday, the excessive number of e-mails has gone unabated, to the point that it has become harassing in nature and arguably unlawful. Failure to cease and desist will be met with appropriate action by the City.
David M. Feldman
City of Houston
“It’s ridiculous for Feldman to argue that citizens contacting their own elected officials is a form of harassment and somehow illegal. And, of course, the end result of this is that it just drives that much more attention to the issue (and probably even more emails),” writes TechDirt’s Mike Masnick.
Such behavior is also likely to exacerbate mounting frustration amongst Americans that government at all levels is more unresponsive and less representative than ever before.
Many have joked that the only part of the government which actually seems to be listening is the NSA, and the actions of Houston city officials in this case will do little to change that perception.