back to article Courtney Love in the crossfire! Paris turns ugly over Uber

In a development many thought an impossibility, Paris has turned decidedly ugly, as traditional taxi drivers clashed with Uber, dragging pop singer and 1990s grunge leftover Courtney Love into the battle. In protest against the ride-sharing app service Uberpop, taxi drivers brought the French capital to a standstill, in …

  1. Brian 3

    Next up: meth dealers in Paris file a complaint with the EU that french authorities are blocking their right to do business...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beat me too it.

    I was going to say drug/coke but you've beaten me to it Brian 3.

    It's illegal uber, tough.

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Burning Tyres?

    SOP for any type of protest in Frogland.

    Time to think about building another Tunnel but this time to Belgium or even Holland.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Burning Tyres?

      Time to think about building another Tunnel ...

      No, we should be bricking up the one we already have.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Burning Tyres?

      makes a change from Burning Sheep in protests involving French workers at this time of year

    3. Blank-Reg

      Re: Burning Tyres?

      And the upturned cars! Can't have a traditional French protest without the upturned cars.

      Sacré bleu, someone call Le Garçons en Bleu

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Burning Tyres?

        I still amuse myself by imagining a stripey jumpered beret wearer with a gitane hanging out of the corner of his mouth, muttering "Zut alors et merde" whilst crouching down in the hold of a fishing trawler holding a BIC lighter to 200 tonnes of very wet fish.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Burning Tyres?

        > Sacré bleu, someone call Le Garçons en Bleu

        ..who will stand at the side of the road smoking and passing comment on the form of the attackers..

  4. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    Up next: Explaining this to the insurance company.

    ...How does one say "schadenfreude" in French? We never covered that back in high school...

    1. Matt Piechota

      How does one say "schadenfreude" in French? We never covered that back in high school...

      Le freude schadeaux

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        Instant Dict.

        I had to Google this, not having gone beyond O-Level.

        The second and third results were this very page. Way to go El Reg!

        By the way Monsieur Google spells it without the "c"

  5. Khaptain Silver badge

    Now do the UberLawyer

    If you want to see the laws getting changed very, very quickly, Uber just needs to make an app called UberCunt.

    UberCunt will put you directly into the hands of a Cunt, a cheap freeloading lawyer... A la "Better Call Saul", they won't garauntee the quality but they can garauntee that he will be a cunt.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Now do the UberLawyer

      I think they should move into party planning, with a "Stars in their Eyes" style makeover imitating the honoured guest of the party. They could call it Uberdo_Iwannabelikeyou.

  6. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Paris Hilton

    An opportunity missed for humourous wordplay

    Had it been Paris and not Courtney.

  7. Dan Paul

    All the more reason

    to leave the whole of Europe off your tourism list, Courtney. Don't worry though, those people assaulting your driver and damaging their vehicle are just "venting their frustrations". It's really not kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon. Too bad the Gendarme are too busy having a smoke break. Probably in the same union as the taxi drivers.

    The French government can't stand any competition with their graft ridden status quo, they make up laws for what ever reason they want, apply them willy-nilly when ever they feel like and are only concerned with lining their pockets. No foreign corporate entity can do business anywhere in Europe without paying their literal "pound of flesh" and even then it's a crapshoot whether someone else will put their hand out or screw you one way or another. At least in the States you know where you stand and graft is a thing of the far past.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All the more reason

      "At least in the States you know where you stand and graft is a thing of the far past."

      Yeah, here the corporations just buy the politicians directly, thanks to the "Citizens United" ruling and a supreme court that thinks "Corporations == People" and "Money == Free Speech".


      1. Dan Paul

        Re: All the more reason

        Graft IS a thing of the past because you can report them to the Fed's and actually get results.

        They pretty much blew out a large part of the Mafia when Guilliani was Mayor of NYC but asskissing DeBlasio may have brought them back.

        The LOBBYING of politicians is not the same thing as needing to bribe the police to get any help or the courts to be heard.

        By the way, the "Citizens United" debacle (which I am quite aware of) was decided by the Supreme Court you moron and bribery did not enter into decision. THAT was under Obama the Liar in Chiefs watch too.

        Why don't you read and find out what the ruling actually did? YOU might learn something.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: All the more reason

      "At least in the States you know where you stand and graft is a thing of the far past."

      You've obviously not been in Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey or New York. My personal favorite is Illinois:

      _Rod Blagojevich – Governor from 2002 through 2009, when he became the first Illinois governor in history to be impeached. Convicted of numerous corruption charges in 2011, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat.

      _ George Ryan – Governor from 1999 through 2003. After leaving office, was convicted of racketeering for actions as governor and secretary of state. In November 2007, began serving a 6 1/2 year sentence in federal prison.

      _ Dan Walker – Governor from 1973-1977. Pleaded guilty to bank fraud and other charges in 1987 related to his business activities after leaving office. Spent about a year and a half in federal prison.

      _ Otto Kerner – Governor from 1961-1968. Resigned to become judge, then was convicted of bribery related to his tenure as governor. Sentenced to three years in prison.

  8. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Oh... it was an Uber protest.

    For second there, I thought it was a Courtney Love protest.

  9. BongoJoe
    Thumb Up

    What concerns me most is not the French protests but the comments above which clearly show that we've forgotten how to protest in this country.

    No use marching on Whiltehall in the weekend when the mandarins are at home or the Cabinet playing croquet at Chequers. Of course protesting during the week, when it would be noticed, isn't allowed so instead the British public are permitted to shout at empty buildings when no-one can hear them.

    Good on the French, I say.

  10. Slef

    with you there

    With you all the way. Why protest when you could meekly accept multi national corporations riding roughshod over living conditions. People soon whinge when it affects them personally, but are quick to cheaply denigrate the French workers who stand up for themselves.Perhaps it is the French idea of community that is so upsetting to so many as in the UK we are encouraged to race for the bottom!

  11. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    It's worth remembering...

    ...that even the French think Paris is foreign country, separate from the rest of France.

    On the other hand, French strikes do seem to include violence and/or fire as a standard part of the process.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: It's worth remembering...

      After complaints that the French were often unfriendly towards tourists, they are simply responding to government requests that they offer a warm welcome to the city.

  12. Your alien overlord - fear me
    Paris Hilton

    Paris turns ugly - I thought you were doing an article on her plastic surgery

  13. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    So what will happen...

    ... when Uber finally get rid of their drivers and have Google driverless cars, that reduce the cost of taxis to the point you can afford to use them for the daily commute?

    In France you will still have to pay a fortune to travel around, but the rest of Europe will have put thousands of taxi drivers out of business.

    Consider this. In the 80s the dockers went on strike. Automation would destroy thousands of dockers' jobs. I supported the dockers. How wrong was I? The big automated container ports around the world now employ only a handful of people. International trade is now more possible than ever before; it is possible to ship half-finished components around the world for final assembly somewhere else. That was never possible when you had to pay thousands of wages.

    But think of the new jobs this is creating. Uber (part owned by Google) will force through this change. We all want it, but those affected will complain. This is the future -- they must retrain.

    Sorry, I know it's tough. But you can't stop it. France will just become more uncompetitive unless the bow to the common denominator that automated cars bring.

    1. Badger Murphy

      Re: So what will happen...

      I see where you're going, but I just don't think that this is an apt comparison

      Sure, driverless cars replacing paid livery services IS an apt comparison of two examples of technology displacing redundant workers, but that is not what is being discussed here.

      This situation is simply this, as far as I understand it:

      1.) Uber begins operating in France.

      2.) France's livery workers are understandably upset that this new service is allowed to operate side by side with them, but is not subject to the same restrictions, training, and other prerequisites for being a livery operator in France.

      3.) The French government responds by banning the Uberpop service outright.

      4.) Apparently many Uber drivers continue to operate, now illegally, and little or nothing is being done by the authorities to stop this activity.

      5.) The French livery operators, now having lost faith in the government helping them, in typical French fashion, start protesting and rioting to great effect, attacking the Uber drivers' vehicles.

      Displacement of the workers by notional future technologies is another riot for another day, and has essentially nothing to do with this.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Who's going to be able to afford the commute?

        Who precisely will be able to afford the cost of an Uber self driving commute?

        With self driving cars uber will have to raise their prices because they will have to pay insurance, roadtax, maintain the cars (including washing them) and fund them in the first place to buy them new. They'll have to put their prices UP!

        There won't be amortisation of costs from the driver who goes to work and adds a bit of cash to his income, whilst faster depreciating his car, so uber will have to get that all back.

        Uber exploits the drivers. You get cheap journeying on the backs of both their labour and their equipment. Without that prices will rise.

        Also, all these out of work people won't be buying cars or hiring them, what shall they do for money?

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: So what will happen...

        Displacement of the workers by notional future technologies is another riot for another day, and has essentially nothing to do with this.

        It has everything to do with this.

        The French cabbies have priced themselves out of the market, much as our own black cabs do here in London. A technology driven service has begun operating that fully complied with the law at that time. The cabbies then had law changes pushed through solely to protect their unjustifiable terms and conditions.

        There are many issues with uber (insurance, driver checks etc) that should attract investigation and possibly regulation. That they under cut the current price taking work away from the incumbent cabbies is not one of them.

        SatNavs have eliminated the core skill of the cabbie - knowing how to get to any place in town - and mobile apps have automated the task of passing the job to the closest cab and taking payment for the trip. The Knowledge is nothing more than a quaint bit of history now, and the jacked up prices it supported are collapsing to reflect the market rate for the skill rather than the union rate for it.

        Governments need to get better at helping people transition from dying industries into something more productive, rather than flinging them on the scrapheap or propping up a redundant way of working at vast cost to the rest of us.

        1. Lyndon Hills 1

          Re: So what will happen...

          Governments need to get better at helping people transition from dying industries into something more productive, rather than flinging them on the scrapheap or propping up a redundant way of working at vast cost to the rest of us.

          Hear hear!

          Remembering the miners, there was a foul, dangerous job, that no-one sane would want to do. For all that it was well paid, and better than no job at all, which was pretty much the choice.

        2. WalterAlter


          Technology is like gravity and it operates according to the Laws of the Universe, Cognition Department. Moore's Law is a corollary to the uber paradigm that technology is inherently democratizing, as in there would be no democracy on this planet were there no Industrial Revolution and its subsequent surplus production. Technology destroys monopoly inherently via lateral peer to peer data flux, cf. Snowden, cf. copyright, cf. fall of Soviet Union, etc. Uber is the beginning of the coming revolution in the distribution of services. Then the Singularity. Soon.

      3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: So what will happen...

        > Apparently many Uber drivers continue to operate, now illegally, and little or nothing is being done by the authorities to stop this activity.

        That seems to be the key issue.

        Uber can complain all it likes - but it should, like everyone else, obey the law as it stands now. OK, if they don't like the law then petition to get it changed, but the law is as it is and they should obey it.

        What should be happening is the authorities clamping down, arresting and charging any drivers found flouting the law - and drag in Uber as facilitating that illegal activity (conspiracy to commit a crime, assisting an offender). Even leaving aside whether Uber itself is legal, I bet an awfully large proportion of it's drivers don't have the right insurance etc - so they can be had for that alone, and again Uber as an accessory unless they can show (which they won't be able to) that they've taken all reasonable measures to vet their contractors for legality.

    2. Jonathan Richards 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: So what will happen...

      > what will happen... when Uber finally get rid of their drivers and have Google driverless cars

      One or more former taxi drivers will walk in front of each of the driverless cars with a red flag, reducing its speed to about 6 kph. Of course, the passengers in the driverless car will be powerless to retaliate: they can't drive it, and opening the doors on a moving car would be *much* too dangerous, so they'll be locked.

  14. dan1980

    The government is to blame for this.

    If something is illegal and yet it continues to happen - expand even - then someone is not doing their job. It seems that declaring it illegal is all anyone is willing to do and that is not good enough.

    If you specify a weight limit of 40t for national highways and have a company that specifically (and only) runs 48t lorries around and, further, is talking up how it is expanding its fleet of over-weight vehicles and trumping their benefits to customers, then something will get done - there will be a concerted effort from the authorities to make sure the practice stops.

    And yet this is pretty much what is happening with Uberpop in France and yet there seems to be no real push to actually get the drivers off the road.

    As I have said before, the fines should be of the same order as those for carrying out unlicensed electrical work, which, in Australia can run into 6 figures.

    No warnings. It is CLEAR that operating an Uberpop service is illegal and that you are operating as an unlicensed contractor, for money, for the public, and actively pursuing work. You aren't just someone caught helping a mate out - you are deliberately and actively making your unlicensed services available for hire to the general public.

    Operating an Uberpop service in France is not an honest mistake or a well-meaning bending of the rules - it is willfully illegal and so should qualify for the maximum allowable penalties.

    It is not just speeding - for which there can be any number of excuses - but advertising that you speed as a service. Imagine advertising a courier service where the selling point was that the drivers drive 20kph over the speed limit so that you get your deliveries faster.

    I have no particular beef with Uber and where the services are legal, all is good. But to deliberately and repeatedly break the law for profit is just reprehensible.

    1. DropBear

      "The government is to blame for this. If something is illegal and yet it continues to happen - expand even - then someone is not doing their job."

      Indeed. It shows they had no business outlawing something that the masses want to keep doing. If everyone is cutting straight across a patch of grass in the park, what you do is NOT put up a sign with "KEEP OFF THE GRASS OR ELSE". What you do is build a path across it.

      1. Jediben

        Wrong. You keep the signs in place and plant a minefield underneath it.

        If the law stats that acting as a taxi is illegal, those caught doing it should have said car crushed.

        Whether the law is even realistic or appropriate (I don't think it is, protectionism like this is basically a Government approved cartel) is another matter entirely, but to fail to enforce it is just lame.

        They should be letting illegals into 'sting' lorries at Calais and then driving them back to the Mediterranean as well, but apparently they have 'rights' which trump ours.

  15. Buzzword

    Why not in Britain?

    Why don't "les rosbifs" have UberPop? I wouldn't mind earning an extra £20 a day dropping off passengers at the airport (which just happens to next to my office).

    1. dan1980

      Re: Why not in Britain?

      Would you still do it even if it was ruled as illegal?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why not in Britain?

      Because, despite our excellence at self-deprecation, the UK remains more efficient than an awful lot of places in the world. I specifically include the EU and US in that statement.

      The UK already has a highly developed infrastructure for dealing with private hire taxis at a local level.

  16. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Where's Taylor Swift?

    What the Taxi drivers the world over need is Taylor Swift to articulate their case and write an open letter saying why she wouldn't be using Uber


    Could we have a Taylor Swift smile icon please

  17. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Joe le taxi

    Are we sure this was a protest against Uber? Perhaps the French Taxi drivers were showing their appreciation of the music of Courtney Love and Hole?

    They would never have done that to Vanessa Paradis

  18. Yag

    The whole french taxi situation is a total mess.

    They must have a licence to operate, and until recently the number of those licences were limited. This lead to retiring taxis selling theirs for up to 150K€.

    As now the taxi consider their licence as an "investment" that can be sold later, they require the state either keep the system "as it" or buy the licence back - for the ludicrously inflated price, of course.

    Nowadays, the number of licences is not limited any longer, but there's a catch : the new licences issued by the administration are valid for 5 years, no more, and cannot be transfered.

    Of course, the older licences are still unlimited and sellable... Their prices went down to 60-100K however.

    Also, I don't know how it works abroad, but in France, it's MORE expensive to call a cab than to find a random one. There's a rule stating that the taxi can (and will) ask the customer for the trip from its current position to the customer's location.

    This clearly imply that the french taxis have NO incentive to roam around - it's even the opposite. So they just hang in their depots or around the airports and railroad stations. Good luck finding any taxi out of those locations, unless they just dropped a customer and goes back to their den...

    Yeah, I'm still bitter from the 18€ fare for a 5km trip...

    I'ld say nuke them from orbit - it's the only way to be sure.

    1. Schlimnitz

      It was every thus

      Screwed up system defended by a few privileged people who have worked out how to profit from it.

      1. Yag

        Re: It was every thus

        Welcome in France.

  19. chivo243 Silver badge

    Cheap ass celebrity

    Really? Courtney Love in a ubertaxi? One would think someone who has all of Cobain's money, plus her own could afford to rent a nice car? Hire a limo?

    And, how do the real taxi drivers know it's an ubertaxi? I'm really not up on how this uber works. Do the uber taxis have some sort of blinking light or something? Or is just the fact that there is no one in the passenger seat and 4 people in the back seat?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Cheap ass celebrity

      how do the real taxi drivers know it's an ubertaxi?

      Here's a revolutionary idea. Why not try reading the fucking article before spouting off here?

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Cheap ass celebrity

        got it, third paragraph from the end. but I don't see a description of the offending taxi pirates, only that they are "easily identifiable". Sorry to have spouted off even when I apologized in advance as I have never seen one. Now get out from underneath my rock.

        Have a nice weekend... and a pint eh?

  20. TeeCee Gold badge

    "The Uberpop app connects private, non-professional drivers with passengers..."

    Well that has to be the dumbest idea in the history of dumb ideas.

    What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Ah yes, I know. 90+% of people wouldn't know their car had a serious, even life-threatening, fault unless the car said; "I have a serious, even life-threatening, fault" as they approached it (and even then, they'd probably drive it anyway). The sort of people who are trying to scrounge a few extra quid by moonlighting as a fake taxi are by definition not the sort who will drop the necessary quiddage to keep their car professionally maintained and in top-top condition. You'd need your bumps felt to use this system.

    Most countries with any degree of common sense force licensed taxis to be inspected rather more frequently and seriously than the cursory[1] once-over most vehicles get for this reason.

    [1] I've seen a few things with a new MOT that have "Death Trap" written all over them. Likewise I've seen failures for no good reason. It's Lucky Lotto out there.

  21. Brian Allan 1

    Change all the taxis to Uber. Problem solved!

    Taxis can't stand a bit of competition!? Poor taxis!

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