French taxi drivers locked down the city of Paris as part of a nationwide protest against Uber. Tensions have been high between taxi driver unions and Uber since the ride sharing service began operations in the country. Uber is currently operating in a legal grey area as the French constitutional court is still deliberating on the legality of the service.
Riot police were out in full force as protestors set fire to tires and blocked roads to prevent traffic from moving. There were also reports of Uber drivers being attacked and their cars overturned. Victims of the attacks included singer Courtney Love, who tweeted that she would have been “safer in Baghdad”. Police said that 70 cars were damaged and seven police officials were injured.
UberPop stood at the centre of the issue, as taxi revenues in France have dropped between 30- and 40-percent since the introduction of the service. Uber had recently attempted to expand its UberPop service to more cities in France, prompting this recent display of civil unrest. UberPop is similar to Uber X in Malaysia, where regular car owners share their rides with strangers to make money on the side.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the violence, and has vowed to take a tough stance on the protestors. However, it has been reported that the Prime Minister has banned UberPop in Paris as the first step to managing the violence; the French government still considers UberPop to be an illegal activity.
Uber faces many regulatory and legal battles across the world, and the ride sharing service has lost as many battles as it has won. Uber has recently agreed to German regulations requiring it to pay commercial licensing fees, and it might have to do the same with French authorities.