FTC Releases Staff Report on Sharing Economy

In June 2015, the FTC held a workshop on consumer issues raised by the Sharing Economy.  This month, they have released their staff report of findings from the workshop.

Here is a summary of their findings on regulatory issues:

Should sharing economy suppliers and platforms face regulation? Panelists and commentators hotly debated this topic.

  • Some argued that regulations should be the same for all suppliers competing in a particular sector, for example, that the same regulations apply to Uber drivers and taxicabs, hotels and Airbnb hosts, creating a “level playing field” and protecting consumers and the public.
  • Others emphasized the need to keep barriers to entry low so that consumers can reap the benefits of new entry by sharing economy suppliers.  They suggested that regulators should adopt regulations that are no broader than necessary to achieve a legitimate public policy purpose, with an eye toward how any regulations affect competition from new entrants. Moreover, regulators should examine whether regulations designed to protect consumers participating in the traditional economy ought to be applied to entities operating in the sharing economy.