The "Sharing" Economy: Issues Facing Platforms, Participants, and Regulators A Federal Trade Commission Workshop
As a citizen patron of sharing-economy services such as Airbnb, I would like to offer full-throated support for such services, and protection of them from excessive or burdensome regulation. While I support the federal government's role in ensuring the protection of its citizens, the federal government, in this case, should have an interest in protecting the desires of the citizens, and not the preservation of mainstream and lackluster industries that caused such sharing-economy services to pop up in the first place. It is clear to any patron of such services that they come with a certain valid expectation of risk. However, such risk is mitigated by review and rating systems, public user feedback, etc. that are native to these sharing-economy services. This is a modern method of citizen-managed regulation that should be nurtured, because it supports free-market ideals while retaining a reasonable level of citizen protection. If anything, the federal government should focus on supporting or mandating vendors in this space to have well managed user review processes in place that meet a certain level of fairness, while protecting against 'gaming' the review system. Services such as Yelp have been accused of this type of gaming, and the federal government's focus should be on ensuring such gaming is considered to be a federal level of fraud that is enforceable by law. In summation, these sharing-economy services exist because they are friendly to their customers, and engender a close, positive relationship between service providers and their customers. They exist because we customers are not getting this level of service from mainstream hospitality and transportation services, which are often unfriendly and sometimes financially predatory. As such, any federal review of such sharing-economy services in the marketplace should be done with the spirit of retaining what makes these services desirable to the citizenry. You must support the spirit of such services and not betray the desires of citizenry who have, out of need, willed these services into existence.