The FTC targets ridesharing but makes it sound plausible by using rhetoric that could mean anything.
With Uber offices being raided in Europe, the job of FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez is to make speeches that free the government to take action toward Uber, Airbnb, and others. Thus, the National Journal reports, “FTC Chief Calls for ‘Targeted’ Regulation of Uber, Airbnb.” What kind of targeting? The article explains, “Edith Ramirez is taking a cautious step to rein in ‘sharing economy’ apps.”
Obviously, we are expected to believe that Ramirez is the embodiment of careful restraint since she is only “taking a cautious step.” But why “rein in” Uber or Airbnb at all? Why not leave them alone? The rhetoric simply assumes that the apps must be restrained. Why?
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 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.
Have the customers asked for any so-called “consumer protections”? No evidence is mentioned of a demand for such “targeted regulations.”
Finding the right middle ground, Ramirez acknowledged, is “complex and challenging” and has “no simple answers.”
In other words, the government will do what it wants and there will be no objective criteria for judging government actions.
Ramirez says some nice things but she plainly leaves open infinite possibilities for exercising the coercive power of government.