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Uber shuts down its app in Paris to support driver protest

Proposed legislation threatens nearly 10,000 private driver jobs, it says.
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Uber will suspend its service in Paris today between 11 AM and 3 PM in support of a driver protest against proposed legislation from the French government. So far, the company has distanced itself from the conflict, but said it will shut down its app in support of its Paris drivers, the first time it has ever done so. The issue, of course, is about private chauffeur services and apps like Uber versus traditional taxis. The government banned the UberPop service last year, so there are no longer concerns over non-professional drivers. However, it now wants to stop a group of minicab chauffeurs from using Uber and other apps.

"Many professional drivers have been protesting in recent days -- their fears are understandable -- and they have asked us for support. As many as 10,000 families face financial uncertainty after the job they'd been doing was taken away from them," an Uber representative told The Local. The company was referring to past agreements made by a private driver group that the French government now wants to rip up. "Mr. Valls Guillotined us," said a spokesman, referring to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Taxi drivers staged their own protest late last month, which was followed by a "funeral march" of Uber vehicles on February 3rd. The driver group, which said Uber and other apps provide up to 70 percent of its business, wants to stop new regulations that could further hamper its chauffeurs. French mediator Laurent Grandguillaume is trying to decide which new rules, if any, the government will impose on the apps. However, he recently tweeted that "some digital platforms want to impose their world without regard to the law, but the Republic will always be stronger." As a result, many critics think he's already made up his mind in favor of taxis.

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