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San Francisco, L.A. lawsuit against Uber stirs backlash

March 19, 2015

: Sharelines : latimes – excerpt

The larger issue at play in Uber lawsuit is the government’s role in the sharing economy

The government’s lawsuit against ride-hailing upstart Uber has stirred a fierce backlash from advocates who fear regulation could put the brakes on innovation.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles counties — George Gascon and Jackie Lacey — seeking an injunction against Uber to stop what they contend are fraudulent pricing practices and misleading public statements about driver safety, among other complaints.

“We urge policymakers not to be a barrier to innovation,” said Gary Toebben, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, calling for “productive conversations” with ride-sharing companies.

Brian Wise of the free market advocacy group the U.S. Consumer Coalition issued a statement titled, “Gov’t Declaring War on Uber.” The government, he said, “needs to back off.”…

The larger issue at play is the government’s role in the so-called sharing economy, not only ride-hailing services but also lodging match-up services such as AirBnB.

Consumers are apt to wonder just what kind of regulations are placed on a company where a willing rider is matched up through a smartphone app with a willing stranger in a personal vehicle….

In the state Legislature, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks), whose ride-sharing safety regulation bill was defeated last year, said Wednesday that he plans to introduce a similar bill in the next session that will be “at the bare minimum, exactly the same as where we left off with the previous bill.”

The bill would have required ride-hailing drivers be enrolled in a DMV employer pull notice program, undergo a fingerprint-based background check and participate in a drug testing program. Nazarian said he’s considering adding other safety provisions to the bill… (more)

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