“Flexible” and “targeted” regulations of so-called “sharing economy” services like Uber and Airbnb may be necessary, the head of the Federal Trade Commission said Friday.
In a speech at Fordham University Law School, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez warned that imposing “legacy regulations on new business models” can stifle competition and ultimately leaves consumers worse off. But, she said, regulators shouldn’t shy away from enforcing important consumer protections on issues like health, safety, or privacy.
“We must allow competition and innovation in the form of these new peer-to-peer business models to flourish,” Ramirez said, according to a copy of her remarks. “At the same time, where necessary, targeted regulatory measures may be needed to ensure that these new business models have appropriate consumer protections; but they should be no greater than necessary to address those concerns.”
Any new regulations might not necessarily come from the FTC itself. While the commission does have authority over issues like privacy and data security, it also offers advice to state and local agencies on how to impose regulations without hurting competition.
Ramirez’s speech is the latest tentative attempt by policymakers to try to grapple with the explosion of “sharing economy” (also known as “peer-to-peer” or “on demand”) apps that can connect buyers and sellers with the push of a button. The FTC held a workshop on the services in June and has been sifting through public comments.