French parking machines shock drivers with abusive messages

French parking machines accuse mayor of being a thief

The parking ticket machines in the French town of Meaux, a town about 40km east-northeast of Paris, have staged a mini, machine-level French Revolution.

Taking aim at the town’s mayor, Jean-François Copé, otherwise normal-looking tickets issued to drivers from one particular parking lot were recently declaring that Copé was a “bastard mayor” and a “thieving mayor”.

According to Le Parisien, a payment terminal was found to have distributed more than 500 insulting tickets in May.

On them were these “courteous little messages”, as captured in this tweet:


Here is the insulting Meaux parking ticket! #RiseOfTheMachines (Eternal gratitude to @Bndct)

Why the anti-Copé, parking-machine uprising?

As The Register details, Copé is a former bigwig of the French (conservative) opposition party Les Republican.

He declared himself president of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) Group in the French National Assembly in November 2012 (he wasn’t the only one: with Copé having received 50.03% of the votes, his opponent also declared victory).

But he resigned in May 2014 following lousy results for his party in the 2014 European elections and a scandal over invoices in which Le Point magazine accused Copé of using a friend’s company as contractor for organizing UMP’s events and overpaying it.

You can see where the parking machines get their inspiration.

The Mayor’s office, who filed a complaint, said that it received multiple complaints in a day from “shocked” Meaux citizens.

Police are looking into the matter.

The most likely culprit, Le Parisien reports, is an ex-employee of the parking company, Q Park, given that access to its computer system requires a username and password.

Not that that requirement rules out illegal access, given how feeble so many passwords are, of course.

Lise Botrel, communication director for Q Park France, says that it’s possible that the system was exploited by an outsider:

We might have been the victim of a hacker.

Or then again, maybe those machines really don’t like the mayor.

Do androids dream of electric sheep? We may never know.

But one thing we do know: either a) this parking lot’s security has been compromised by a cyber intruder, b) an anti-Copé ex-employee with an agenda has been abusing his access (which should have been revoked, of course!), or c) these machines take invoice tinkering really, really seriously.

Image of parking ticket with thanks to @Bndct, @bengallerey