Ridesharing in the Sharing Economy: Should Regulators Impose Über Regulations on Uber?

Author:Hannah Posen
Position:J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law, 2016; B.A., Columbia University, 2013; B.A., The Jewish Theological Seminary, 2013
Pages:405-433
SUMMARY

Society has changed dramatically in the years since the taxi industry was first regulated. Innovation and technology in fields virtually unknown or unrealized 50 years ago have shaped consumer culture today, and most consumers rely on the ease and accessibility of their smartphones to get what they need and even to go where they need to go. Uber, a ridesharing experience that allows users to... (see full summary)

 
FREE EXCERPT
405
Ridesharing in the Sharing Economy:
Should Regulators Impose Über
Regulations on Uber?
Hannah A. Posen
ABSTRACT: Society has changed dramatically in the years since the taxi
industry was first regulated. Innovation and technology in fields virtually
unknown or unrealized 50 years ago have shaped consumer culture today,
and most consumers rely on the ease and accessibility of their smartphones to
get what they need and even to go where they need to go. Uber, a ridesharing
experience that allows users to request a car through a smartphone app, was
developed in the midst of this new consumer culture in which access to
commodities is more valuable than individual ownership and where people
value social interaction and the human experience. Unsurprisingly, Uber’s
unforeseen growth across the country has created new competition in a taxi
industry that has been largely undisrupted since it began in the early 20th
century. The taxi industry and many cities and states have responded by
demanding that Uber comply with already-existing taxi regulations,
including entry controls and price-fixing. This Note argues that in today’s
sharing economy, the solution is not to force Uber to comply with outdated
regulations; rather, regulators should rely on experimental regulations for
safety, which will allow consumers to make their own choice of which service
they would like to use while ensuring their safety. Furthermore, by relying on
the use of experimental regulations, regulators will be able to evaluate the
effectiveness of the regulations as more information on these services becomes
available.
J.D. Cand idate , The Univ ersi ty of I owa C olle ge of Law, 2016 ; B.A ., Col umbi a Uni vers ity,
2013; B.A., The Jewish Theological Seminary, 2013. I thank the writers and editors of the Iowa
Law Review for their work on this Note and my family for their support.
406 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 101:405
I. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................. 406
II. TAXIS, REGULATIONS, AND HOW THE SHARING ECONOMY HAS
CHANGED THE TAXI INDUSTRY ..................................................... 408
A. REGULATION TRENDS IN THE TAXI INDUSTRY ........................... 408
B. THE RISE OF THE SHARING ECONOMY AND CHANGING
CONSUMER CULTURE .............................................................. 412
C. WHAT IS UBER AND WHY DO CONSUMERS WANT IT? ................ 414
III. THE GROWING CHALLENGES THAT A GROWING UBER FACES ...... 418
A. THE TAXI INDUSTRY AND CITIES AND STATES CHALLENGE
UBER ...................................................................................... 419
1. Taxi Drivers and Operators .......................................... 419
2. Cities Challenge Uber ................................................... 423
B. REGULATORY CHALLENGES TO INNOVATION AND
TECHNOLOGY ......................................................................... 424
IV. UBER BRINGS INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY TO THE
TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY ........................................................ 426
A. REGULATORY SUPPORT FOR UBER ............................................ 427
B. EXPERIMENTAL REGULATIONS FOR SAFETY ............................... 429
V. CONCLUSION ................................................................................ 432
I. INTRODUCTION
For over a century, consumers have engaged in “throwaway living”—
relying on disposable products rather than reusable ones.1 Consumers were
more concerned with the convenience the products could provide in that
moment than with any long-term consequences that might result from the
products’ use.2 By the mid-20th century, people were engaged in “hyper-
consumerism,” focused on acquiring more and more goods, regardless of
their utility,3 and focusing on the individual instead of the community.4
1. RACHEL BOTSMAN & ROO ROGERS, WHATS MINE IS YOURS 7–9 (2010) (discussing the
invention of paper cups and plastic bags, among other products, for convenience, hygiene, and
time-savings).
2. See id. at 9–10.
3. Id. at 20 (“What interests us the most is not the luxury status or elitist side of conspicuous
consumption . . . but the excessive mass consumption binge kick-started in the 1920s that
exploded in the mid-1950s. We refer to the endless acquisition of more stuff in ever greater
amounts as ‘hyper-consumerism,’ a force so strong there are now more shopping malls than high
schools in America.”).
4. Id. at 4 2 (“ [B] y th e 195 0s, the daw n of hyp er- con sum eri sm, w e st art ed t o pe rce ive our sel ves
first and foremost as a society of individual consumers, and as a group of citizens s econd.”).

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP