TIME Companies

Uber Is Trying to Patent Its Surge Pricing Technology

The practice recently fueled criticism when users in Sydney faced rising prices as they tried to flee the area of a hostage crisis

The fast-growing ride-sharing service Uber wants to patent a pricing technology that has come under fire from critics who accuse the company of price gouging.

The technology, which Uber calls “surge pricing,” is among at least 13 patent applications the company has filed with the U.S. patent office, which typically become public 18 months after filing, Bloomberg reports. So far, most of the applications have been initially rejected for “obviousness” or because they were otherwise ineligible, but there’s been no decision yet on the surge pricing technology.

Read more: This is how Uber’s surge pricing works

The company, which was founded in San Francisco in 2009 and has already expanded to more than 50 countries, has defended the practice, which adjusts prices in real time based on the amount of demand in the area.

But Uber, already under pressure in jurisdictions around the world over regulatory and safety concerns, drew renewed criticism when the service raised prices in Sydney earlier this week as users were trying to leave the area around a hostage crisis.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: December 19

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Exclusive: Ted Cruz on Why Cuba’s Leaders Can’t Be Trusted

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, writing for TIME, shares his family’s experience with the Castro regime, and argues that Congress should reject President Obama’s new Cuba policy. “[The Castros] are evil, and we cannot make a deal with an evil regime,” he writes

8 Children Found Dead in North Australia

Eight children, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years, were found dead inside a home in the northern Australian city of Cairns on Friday

White House Doesn’t Rule Out Cybercounterattack in Sony Hack

The White House said it is currently devising a “proportional response” to the massive hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment

Watch Stephen Colbert Bid Farewell to The Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert brought an end Thursday to one of the greatest sustained performances in pop culture, TV or otherwise, when he hosted the final episode of his satirical Colbert Report, featuring cameos from everyone from Christiane Amanpour to Bill Clinton

Obama Praises LeBron for Wearing ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Shirt

President Barack Obama applauded LeBron James in a new interview for wearing a shirt dedicated to Eric Garner during a recent game and said more sports stars should use their influence to address social issues

U.S. Kills 3 ISIS Leaders in Iraq Strikes, Officials Say

Defense officials said Thursday that American air strikes had killed three of the group’s mid- to high-level leaders in the past month and a half. One official called the deaths a “serious blow to ISIS command and control”

Fincher and Ellroy to Make HBO Series

Gone Girl Director David Fincher has signed up for an HBO noir detective series together with L.A. Confidential writer James Ellroy. Shakedown is set in the underworld of 1950s Los Angeles and is inspired by the life of Hollywood vice cop-turned-private eye Fred Otash

Uber Takes a Break in Portland

Facing ruinous fines of $1,500 against the company, and up to $2,250 for the driver, each time a fare was picked up, Uber has agreed to stop its services until Portland legalizes ride-sharing

NASA’s Kepler Telescope Discovers Another Planet

NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has found another new planet. Dubbed HIP 116454b, the new body is bigger than Earth, smaller than Neptune and probably too hot to sustain life as we know it

Chinese President Xi Jinping to Visit Macau

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Macau on Friday for the tiny Chinese enclave’s 15th anniversary of its transfer back to China’s hands. Xi will try ensure Macau does not go the way of Hong Kong, which has recently become a hotbed of political dissent

Investigators Say Arsonists Responsible for Massive L.A. Fire

Federal investigators believe a fire that took down an entire apartment complex in downtown L.A. last week was set on purpose. It took 250 firefighters an hour and a half to put out the blaze at the Da Vinci apartment complex on Dec. 10

FCC Rejects Claim That the Word ‘Redskins’ Is Obscene

The FCC denied a law professor’s attempt to strip a radio station of its license because of repeated use of the word. The FCC said the word isn’t obscene, citing a Supreme Court ruling defining obscene material as something sexual in nature

We will hold an #AskTIME subscriber Q&A today, Friday, December 19, at 1 p.m., with TIME managing editor, Nancy Gibbs, who recently selected The Ebola Fighters as TIME’s choice for Person of the Year 2014.

You can submit your questions beforehand on Twitter using the #AskTIME hashtag or in the comments of this post. We depend on smart, interesting questions from readers.

You will need to be a TIME subscriber to read the Q & A. ($30 a year or 8 cents a day for the magazine and all digital content.) Once you’re signed up, you can log in to the site with a username and password.

TIME Transportation

Uber Stops Its Operations in Portland for at Least Three Months

Uber At $40 Billion Valuation Would Eclipse Twitter And Hertz
The Uber Technologies Inc. logo is displayed on the window of a vehicle after dropping off a passenger at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Under a deal, Portland will legalize ride-sharing by Apr. 9, otherwise Uber can begin operating again

Portlanders won’t be able to call an Uber car for the next three and a half months while the city makes changes to its regulations. The ridesharing app arrived illegally in the Oregon city two weeks ago but has agreed to suspend its services until the city alters its laws.

Under their agreement with the city, if the changes are not in place by April 9, 2015, Uber can begin operating again, according to a post on the company’s site.

“Uber is dedicated to curating and continuing a valuable and constructive relationship with Portland’s lawmakers, working to create a regulatory framework that works for everyone,” the company said in the statement.

Portland filed a lawsuit and cease-and-desist order against Uber when it launched earlier this month. Before the suit had been filed, the city threatened fines of $1,500 against Uber, and up to $2,250 for the driver, each time a fare was picked up. With more than 10,000 rides being delivered in Portland during the weeks it functioned, according to the company, breaking the law was looking like a costly option.

Portland’s Mayor Charlie Hales said in a statement that he had created a new task force that would decide on regulations for accessibility, pricing, background checks on drivers, insurance requirements and other concerns.

MONEY best of 2014

7 Ways Tech Made Your Life Better in 2014

A new reason to ditch your cellphone contract, safer credit cards, and five more bright ideas that can help you save money in the year ahead.

Every year, there are innovators who come up with fresh solutions to nagging problems. Companies roll out new products or services, or improve on old ones. Researchers propose better theories to explain the world. Or stuff that’s been flying under the radar finally captivates a wide audience. For MONEY’s annual Best New Ideas list, our writers searched the world of money for the most compelling products, strategies, and insights of 2014. To make the list, these ideas—which cover the world of investing, retirement, health care, college, and more—have to be more than novel. They have to help you save money, make money, or improve the way you spend it, like these seven tech innovations.

  • Best Side Effect of the Hacking Mess

    Chip and Pin credit card transformed into a lock
    Image Source—Alamy

    Safer Credit Cards…Finally

    Chip-and-PIN credit cards include a special chip that makes them harder for hackers to replicate. Though you’re legally protected from having to pay most charges when a card number is stolen, more-secure plastic can save you a lot of hassle. Card companies had been slow to roll out chip-and-PIN—until millions of credit card numbers were stolen from major retailers such as Target and Home Depot. “The frequency and size of the breaches absolutely are driving more rapid adoption of the technology,” says Paul Kleinschnitz of First Data, a payment technology firm. Here are two more things to know about the new cards:

    They don’t eliminate all your risk. Chip-and-PIN makes it harder to create fake plastic but doesn’t stop numbers from being used at online stores. So you should still check your statement regularly for weird charges. Chip-and-PIN is already common in Europe; the new cards work in automated machines there that don’t accept old-fashioned plastic.

  • Best Smartphone Savings

    No-Contract Plans

    Old way: Commit to a contract and pay $200 for a smartphone that really costs $650. Of course, you still pay for the phone as part of your monthly bill.

    New way: Wireless companies are making it easier to separate the cost of the phone and the price of service.

    You can shop for a new plan with your old phone. Low-cost players and now the big carriers offer no-contract plans, which may be $100 cheaper per month for a family. Check with carriers for phone compatibility; look up network quality in your area at rootmetrics.com.

    Or get a new phone. You can buy a phone outright or on installment, and combine that with a no-contract plan. Sometimes, but not always, the total price beats the comparable contract option, so run the numbers. If you do go contract, mark your calendar: After 24 months, switch to no-contract if you don’t care to upgrade.

  • Best Reason to Rent, Not Own, Your eBooks

    Amazon Kindle

    All-You-Can Read Subscriptions

    As with music, books are moving toward an all-you-can read subscription model.

    The Services: The service you pick will hinge on the device you prefer to read with. Scribd ($8.99 per month) lets you read an unlimited number of books, and it quintupled its library this year to 500,000, with 30,000 audiobooks. The service now includes many titles from the big publishers Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins. Works on: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire (but not e-ink readers), Nook tablets.

    Though Scribd is the better service overall, it doesn’t work on Kindle e-ink readers. If you’re devoted to that device, Amazon has its own options. With an Amazon Prime subscription, you can choose from thousands of titles to read for no extra charge (one per month). Kindle Unlimited ($9.99) is like Scribd, but customers and reviewers say it’s hard to find books from the “Big Five” publishers. Works on: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Kindle readers.

    The Gadget: Phone and tablet apps are fine for many readers, but e-ink devices provide a more booklike experience. The new Kindle Voyage has a screen that’s 39% brighter than its predecessor.

  • Best Reason to Rent, Not Buy, Your Music

    Streaming Services

    Why buy songs that you’re rarely going to listen to in a few months? What if you could listen to just about anything—except for a few famous holdouts, like Taylor Swift and the Beatles—for less than the price of one CD per month? (Remember those?) A smart new pricing plan could make 2015 the year you make the switch from buying music to legally streaming it.

    The Service: Spotify lets you listen to any song you want in its vast catalogue. A free version, with ads, works on desktops or allows you to play artists or albums on Shuffle on your phone. Paying up for Spotify Premium ($9.99 a month) gets you no ads and total control on any device. Spotify has rolled out a family plan that lets you add new users for $4.99 each; that way two people in your family can play their own tunes at the same time. Works On: iOs, Android, desktop

    The Gadgets to Listen On: Docking stations are easy to use, with no setup or wires required. The $130 iHome iDL48 works with most iPads and iPhones. A portable speaker lets you get your music off your little earbuds and carry it to any room. The reliable Jawbone Mini Jambox ($130) connects to smartphones, tablets, and most computers through Bluetooth. If your existing stereo has an auxiliary input, an easy fix (in you’re not a hi-fi purist) is to run a cable from the headphone or line-out jack on phone, tablet or PC. Cords are $5 to $10 at Monoprice or Amazon.

  • Best Retro Tech

    2015 Ford Focus
    2015 Ford Focus

    Dashboard Knobs are Back!

    For years cars have become more tech-laden, with systems to let you make phone calls, find local pizza joints, or answer email. Which is nice, unless you prefer to keep your focus on driving. Interiors became a maze of numeric keypads and other control points. Ford says its research shows drivers don’t use or want all that tech. Now it’s retro time. For the 2015 model year Ford Focus, the automaker has eliminated many buttons, and added old-fashioned knobs to systems such as heat and A/C. In the next Fusion, the company is even getting rid of touch screens. — Bill Saporito, Time assistant managing editor, car reviewer at Money.com

  • Best Online Security Fix

    Two-Factor Verification

    Worrying about bank and brokerage hacks is understandable. But money can be replaced—and you have legal protections. What you should worry about is a hacker mining your more vulnerable iCloud photos, Facebook page, or email account and impersonating you. Two-factor verification, a login protocol, makes it vastly harder for hackers to steal your digital life. Here’s what you need to do to set it up:

    Select “login approval” or “two-factor verification” under settings at sites you want to protect. The first time you visit that site on a new computer, you will have to enter a code that’s texted to your phone. (You only need to enter this code the first time you log in from a new computer.) In case you lose your phone, you can print out backup codes, which work once. Once you’ve done this, a hacker would need to guess your password and have physical access to your computer in order to steal your data.

  • Best Apps to Get Before You Travel

    Chi Birmingham

    Taxi Apps

    It’s not always easy to scare up a cab in an unfamiliar city. (Where are the best streets to try to hail one? Should I find a taxi stand? Call ahead?) But smartphones are making it much easier to get around. The Uber app can summon a for-hire private car in numerous cities in 45 countries (though the service has recently come under fire in a few cities). In some big towns, like New York, it will also hail a traditional taxi. Curb and Flywheel also grab regular cabs—check first if they work in the town you are visiting. Want help navigating subways and metros? Hopstop has stop-by-stop directions and travel times, as do the transit directions on the Google Maps app.

TIME Crime

Uber Driver Accused of Raping Passenger in Boston

The alleged rape comes as Uber navigates intense scrutiny at home and abroad

An Uber driver in Boston was charged with kidnapping and raping a customer of the ride-sharing service, in another potentially damaging case for the rapidly expanding company.

Alejandro Done, 46, allegedly drove a woman he picked up to a secluded area and then assaulted her in the back seat earlier this month. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Wednesday, the Boston Globe reports.

Uber says Done had passed a background check. “This is a despicable crime and our thoughts and prayers are with the victim during her recovery,” Uber spokesperson Kaitlin Durkosh said in a statement to CBS Boston. “Uber has been working closely with law enforcement and will continue to do everything we can to assist their investigation.”

The ride-sharing company is coming under increasing scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad over regulatory and safety concerns as it expands to more than 50 countries. Several countries have moved to outlaw Uber services, and New Delhi banned Uber earlier this month days after a female passenger accused her Uber driver of rape.

The ride-sharing service said yesterday that it was boosting safety measures and revamping its background checks abroad.

[Boston Globe]

MONEY sharing economy

Uber Promises to Improve Safety Using New Technology

Uber
Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Uber's safety chief is promising to improve driver screening using things like "biometrics and voice verification."

Ridesharing company Uber, which has come under fire recently after multiple highly publicized incidents of driver misconduct, has outlined various steps it is taking to make its service more secure.

In a Wednesday blog post entitled “Our Commitment to Safety,” Philip Cardenas, Uber’s global security head, defended the company’s current safety procedures—such as a driver rating system and “multi-layered background checks”—but acknowledged that Uber still has “more work to do, and we will do it.”

That work appears to consist of four major efforts that are being undertaken following what Cardenas describes as a global security review:

First, Uber will attempt to improve safety through new technology, which will involve biometrics and voice verification for “enhanced driver screening,” and more ways to communicate with Uber and personal contacts in the event of an emergency.

The company will also take steps to improve background checks internationally, where Cardenas says standards vary widely. Once again, Uber promises to solve this problem partially by “using scientific analysis and technology to find solutions.” Customer support will also become a focus for the company, with former Amazon executive Tim Collins joining the company to lead a global support initiative.

Finally, Cardenas writes that Uber will be “working with partners that have deep expertise in issues like women’s safety, conflict resolution, and road safety and incorporate their counsel into our global safety roadmap.”

The post is unlikely to satisfy critics, who claim Uber’s current background checks are insufficient. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon has called Uber’s background checks “completely worthless” because they do not involve fingerprinting drivers, and others have complained the checks do not run through the F.B.I.’s criminal database, as is required by taxi commissions in many municipalities. Cardenas also does not address the fact that Uber’s drivers are not drug tested—a violation of the law in some of Uber’s markets—and often do not carry adequate insurance.

Uber has previously defended its driver screening processes as being superior to government background checks because they use original records as opposed to databases that are potentially out of date.

TIME Companies

China’s Baidu Inc. Confirms Investment in Uber

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (L) and Baidu Chairman and CEO Robin Li at a signing ceremony and press conference in Beijing on Dec. 17, 2014.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (L) and Baidu Chairman and CEO Robin Li at a signing ceremony and press conference in Beijing on Dec. 17, 2014. Greg Barker—AFP/Getty Images

The ride-hailing app will have to work on a new maps system and faces a stiff challenge from local rivals

China’s Baidu Inc. confirmed Wednesday it had taken a stake in ride-hailing app Uber Technologies Inc., but still refused to say how much it had invested, and what kind of stake it had got in return.

Chinese public radio had speculated that Baidu’s investment could be up to $600 million, representing half of the $1.2 billion it raised in a new round of funding earlier this moth.

At a joint press conference in Beijing, Baidu’s founder Robin Li and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that they would work together to build a presence in the Chinese car-booking market, which is growing fast from a low base but is currently dominated by Baidu’s biggest internet rivals, Alibaba Group Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

In a joint statement, the two companies said Baidu will connect its map and mobile-search features with Uber’s service. The Google map app that Uber runs on across the rest of the world is banned in China.

“The goal of this agreement is not for the sake of investment alone, it is more for strategic cooperation and commercial cooperation,” Bloomberg reported Li as telling a joint press conference in Beijing. “Some people think that for investments, Baidu only goes for the full acquisition or taking a controlling share and that Baidu would not take a minority investment. This is a misunderstanding.”

So far, Uber is only present in nine Chinese cities and focuses on the premium segment of the market. It said in July it would expand to 14 cities in the near future.

The start of what could be a major new departure for the U.S. company is a welcome break from the governance scandals and regulatory problems it has been embroiled in recently across the world.

Kalanick told the press conference that Uber is working “pretty well” in China today and doesn’t have any pressing regulatory issues in the nation, according to Bloomberg.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

Al Franken Blasts ‘Lack of Detail’ in Uber’s Answers to Privacy Questions

"Quite frankly, they did not answer many of the questions I posed directly to them"

Senator Al Franken expressed concern this week with the way Uber’s privacy policies remain unclear, in the wake of criticism over the company’s use of customer data.

I recently pressed Uber to explain the scope, transparency, and enforceability of their privacy policies. While I’m pleased that they replied to my letter, I am concerned about the surprising lack of detail in their response,” Franken said in a statement. The senator chairs the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law.

“Most importantly, it still remains unclear how Uber defines legitimate business purposes for accessing, retaining, and sharing customer data,” Franken said. “I will continue pressing for answers to these questions.”

Franken’s letter, dated Nov. 19, addressed reports that execs had planned to dig up dirt on critical journalists, and that employees had abused Uber’s “God View,” which shows the location of all of Uber’s cars, to spy on riders’ whereabouts. In the letter, Franken listed 10 specific questions, ranging from what happens to customers’ data after they delete their account, to what training is provided to ensure employees abide by company policies.

Uber’s response to Franken’s letter described how the two incidents violated company policy. In particular, Uber clarified its policies regarding “God View,” stating that it is available only to certain employees, such as those working in operations. The company also said that recent press articles have “continued to generate misperceptions about how Uber employees treat the personal data of Uber riders.”

TIME apps

This Is How Uber’s ‘Surge Pricing’ Works

Uber App
UberX driver, Michael Belet, checks the Uber customer app to see where other Uber drivers are working so he can determine where the best place for him to get fares might be, April 7, 2014, in Washington, D.C. The Washington Post/Getty Images

And why it was in effect during Australia's hostage crisis

The backlash against Uber’s surge pricing in the midst of an Australian hostage crisis on Monday was swift and decisive.

Uber riders in Sydney started tweeting about price hikes shortly after an armed assailant burst into a city cafe and took hostages, prompting a massive evacuation of offices and shops in the surrounding area. Fees hiked upwards of four times their normal rate, Mashable reported.

“I understand the way the business works — higher the demand, higher the charge — but four-times at $100 minimum is ridiculous,” one Uber user told Mashable. Almost price gouging at its worst.”

That “price gouging” argument echoed across social media Sunday evening, as it looked to many like Uber was trying to capitalize on a potentially deadly emergency. That conversation added another public relations headache to what’s already been a tough few months for Uber, which is facing lawsuits in several cities and an allegation that a male driver in India raped a female passenger.

Uber’s communication team, realizing what was up, tried to calm the outrage by arguing it was charging riders in Sydney more money to incentivize drivers to show up — which is how Uber has always explained its surge pricing.

“Fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online & pick up passengers in the area,” read a tweet from Uber’s Sydney account. But many followers found the explanation callous, to put it mildly:

Uber reversed course within an hour, offering full refunds to affected users and free rides to those who were still trying to evacuate the area (Drivers were still getting paid). Even then, Uber added one last defensive note about its pricing policy: “Please note that surge pricing is used to encourage more drivers to come online and pick up passengers from the area,” Uber wrote on its official blog.

That supply-and-demand surge pricing argument has become a common refrain for the company, which has occasionally bumped up against public resistance to its shifting fares. “Seven decades of fixed pricing in car transportation is a lot to unwind in a night,” wrote Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in 2012.

Two years later, questions about surge pricing still linger — such as:

What is Uber’s surge pricing?

Uber’s pricing algorithm automatically detects situations of high demand and low supply and hikes the price in increments, depending on the scale of the shortage. Those higher prices are supposed to make drivers more likely to bite, putting more Uber cars on the road when they’re most needed.

Demand surges have also been monitored by Uber’s human staffers, who have on rare occasions used their discretion to lower prices. After the great Uber Fare Hike of New Year’s Eve in 2012, for instance, Kalanick described the scene at Uber Mission Control. “To our dismay,” he wrote, “the pricing multiplier kept going up.”

“At some point the east coast cities started breaking 6x multipliers—we accepted defeat at that point—the unbending demand breaking our will. We would bring cities down to 3x, only to see conversion go up, supply go down, cars get saturated, and “zeroes” popping everywhere.” Zeroes are Uber’s term for riders who open the app and see no available cars in their area.

Does “surge pricing” get more drivers on the road?

The basic principles of economics would dictate it does — as would Uber’s experience. According to a blog post by Uber board member Bill Gurley, the program has been a success since its inception in early 2012. Uber’s Boston team first tinkered with a price hike on weekend nights around 1 a.m., when drivers tended to clock out just as the city’s public transit system approached closing time, a situation that created lots of demand for Uber cars.

“In just two weeks they had a resounding answer,” Gurley writes. “By offering more money to drivers, they were able to increase on-the-road supply of drivers by 70-80%, and more importantly eliminate two-thirds of the unfulfilled requests.” Economists call this responsiveness to price “elasticity.” Uber’s service does appear to be unusually elastic, given that its fleet of drivers expands and contracts in real time.

Is there a limit to Uber’s surge pricing?

Uber recently announced an algorithm change that sets maximum surge pricing levels during states of emergency in the U.S. When disaster strikes, Uber caps fares at a price that matches the area’s fourth highest price over the preceding two months. Uber has also vowed to donate its 20% commission on rides during emergencies to the American Red Cross.

In non-emergency situations, surge pricing of six to eight times the regular fare have cropped up in moments of extreme shortages. The highest multiple ever recorded was 50 times the regular fare, or $57 per minute, due to an apparent glitch in Uber’s fares in Stockholm, Sweden, Business Insider reports.

$57 per minute? Is that even legal?

Yes, though it can skirt the boundaries of legality under extreme circumstances. At least 34 states and the District of Columbia have passed price gouging laws that forbid businesses from hiking prices in times of extreme emergencies. New York, for instance, can levy penalties of $10,000 for a business that marks up an “unconscionably excessive price” during an “abnormal disruption of the market,” such as Hurricane Sandy.

However, businesses can defend themselves by pointing to higher costs of supplying their service.

Does Uber worry about negative publicity from surge pricing?

As the hostage crisis in Syndey revealed, in extreme times of need, price hikes, rational as they may be, can also unleash a publicity nightmare.

 

Still, it seems no matter how hard Uber tries to explain its price system, riders’ final fare can still raise hackles. It’s practically become a meme on social media to post an image of a receipt for a three-figure ride, plus an expletive-laced tirade against surge pricing — despite the fact that the Uber app is very clear about surge pricing before users agree to a ride.

Uber board member Bill Gurley pointed out that the company would hazard a far worse form of publicity if it cancelled surge pricing: Chronic shortages of drivers. Better to weather the odd storm, he reasons, than risk a stream of complaints from “tons and tons of unsatisfied customers.”

Uber’s hostage crisis pricing flap may prompt a review of Uber’s pricing policy under extreme circumstances. But for the rest of the time, expect Uber’s surge pricing to stick around.

TIME apps

France to Ban Uber’s Cheapest Service Next Year

Latest regulatory headache for the ride-sharing app

The French government announced plans Monday to ban Uber’s low-cost service next year, as Paris taxis clogged the capital in a “go slow” or “escargot” protest against the ride-sharing service.

The decision to ban UberPop came after a French court on Friday declined to ban Uber from operating in the country. But Uber’s victory was short-lived.

“Not only is it illegal to offer this service but additionally for the consumer there is a real danger,” French interior ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandlet told iTELE, questioning drivers’ inadequate insurance. Brandlet said that the ban will begin Jan. 1.

MORE: 5 places where Uber is fighting for its life right now

The decision comes as Uber is facing scrutiny and regulatory pushback around the world. It was banned in Spain, Thailand and parts of India—where an Uber driver was recently accused of raping a passenger — late last week.

Uber did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment, although it tweeted Monday morning that demand in France remains strong.

The company, which was fined 100,000 euros in France this October for fraudulent business practices, called some of the country’s attempts to ban the app “discriminatory” last month.

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