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Uber app soon to be banned

‘UberPOP’, where people offer to drive for others at a fee, and which taxi drivers hate, will be illegal from January 1

A SMARTPHONE application which puts members of the public in touch with others who want to offer car rides for payment will be banned from January 1 in France, the government says.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said this morning on iTELE that Uber’s UberPOP service is “not only illegal, but frankly dangerous”.

Several taxi driver groups have been calling protests against the service, run by internationally successful American firm Uber, which was founded in 2009 and was recently valued at $40billion.

Uber runs several kinds of service, including UberPOP which is its ‘low-cost’ model. It is understood that another service UberX, which uses licensed drivers, would not be affected by the ban.

The ministry spokesman said a new “Thévenoud Law” on taxi and minicab regulations would put a stop to use of UberPOP when it comes into force next month. He said from then, schemes like this could attract up to two years’ prison and a €300,000 fine.

He said it was dangerous to use the scheme because the drivers were not adequately insured.

On Friday a court refused to officially ban the service because the Thévenoud law is not yet in force. Uber was however fined €100,000 for presenting UberPOP service as a kind of covoiturage (carpooling).

Uber has attracted protests from professional drivers in several countries, who think they cause unfair competition as well as posing risks to passengers. UberPOP was banned in Spain last week.

Photo:Alexandre Prévot

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