Uber fined $150,000 and forced to embarrass itself by French court

Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time!


Uber has been forced to embarrass itself in print by a French court after appealing charges of deceptive advertising.

An appeal court in Paris on Monday upped an earlier €100,000 fine by €50,000 when it rejected the taxi app's argument that it had been deceptive when it published slick adverts for its UberPop service saying it was legal.

In addition to the increased fine, the court also insisted that Uber write and publish a blog post on its website that acknowledged it had been convicted for "deceptive commercial practices" in 2014, and why.

Uber is considering whether to appeal for a second time, in what has become a complex fight with the French government. Two of the service's top executives face jail sentences in charges of enabling illegal taxi services and illicit storage of personal data. They will face trial in February.

Those charges, levied in June, followed a week in which French taxi drivers protested publicly against Uber, overturning some Uber vehicles and burning tires in the street. Uber refused to shut down its UberPop service, however.

UberPop is at the center of the dispute. It is the company's first service that does not have professional drivers, and it was sold as a ride-sharing service with low prices. The authorities declared it an illegal taxi service but Uber pushed ahead with advertising that claimed the opposite – that it was in fact legal.

In response, the consumer protection agency decided to press deception charges, found Uber guilty, and issued a fine. Then Uber appealed and the appeals court agreed with the initial decision and upped the penalty.

Regardless, Uber is still insisting it will push on. A spokesman for the company told The Register: "Our priority is to keep people moving. This decision will not impact the service we offer in France today, which is provided entirely by professional drivers.

"The success in France of Heetch, UberPop's main competitor, who is still operating despite its ban, demonstrates that progress is happening and P2P ridesharing has a future in France. We will continue to work with the French government on new, common-sense regulations that offer riders more affordable, reliable options and drivers new job opportunities."

There's no sign yet of the compulsory self-flagellating blog post. ®

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