01:44 GMT08 August 2020
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    Two senior executives from international car-sharing company Uber are set to face court in France later this year over alleged “illegal” ride-booking practices, prosecutors have said. The announcement follows violent protests from French taxi drivers opposing the app’s use.

    Uber France director general Thibaud Simphal and director for Western Europe Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty were detained by police following an ongoing investigation into the company’s practices.

    They have been charged with engaging in "misleading commercial practices, complicity in the illegal exercise of the taxi profession and illegal use of private data," according to a statement from the Paris prosecutor’s office.

    Uber POP Under the Spotlight

    The investigation is specifically looking into the company’s mobile UberPOP service, which puts clients in touch with unregistered drivers who generally offer a cheaper deal than local taxis.

    Licensed taxis have been vocal critics of the app, arguing that the service, which outs people in touch with unlicensed cabbies is unfair on registered drivers, particularly considering the significant amounts drivers must pay for registration fees in France.

    A French law introduced in October last year banned the use of UberPOP, however Uber has contested the ruling, while officials have said they have found it hard to enforce the law.

    The Uber officials will face charges of carrying out deceitful commercial practices and being complicit in the illegal operation of a taxi service through the provision and advertising of its various options, prosecutors said.

    On top of that, officials are also facing privacy charges over the use and storage of personal data without the authorization of France’s privacy watchdog.

    Global Backlash

    The backlash against Uber led to a nationwide strike from France’s taxi drivers last week, with some protests turning violent as cabbies blocked roads, burned tires and even attacked other vehicles with eggs to show their disapproval of the mobile phone app’s use.

    Road access to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport was blocked with many people seen walking to the airport to avoid missing their flight.

    The French protests aren’t the only ones to have taken place against the app, with a number of similar demonstrations held in various cities across the world, with taxi drivers complaining that registered drivers are penalized due to the steep registration fees many are forced to pay, while the same fees don’t apply to those offering Uber services.

    The French decision to take the Californian-based Uber to court could be significant in setting a precedent for other countries who are also facing calls to crack down on the service.


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    France, scandal, protests, service, taxis, Uber, Europe
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