From Airbnb to Coursera to Uber: Why Government Shouldn’t Regulate the Sharing Economy

By Arun Sundararajan, Associate Professor of Information, Operations and Management Sciences, NEC Faculty Fellow & Doctoral Coordinator

Headshot of Arun Sundararajan
The state of Minnesota briefly banned free online education. That’s right: Last week, an entire state told its residents they couldn’t take free online courses. Well, to be more precise: It prohibited degree-granting universities from offering classes through online community learning sites such as Coursera without first obtaining permission from the state regulatory body (and paying a registration fee, naturally).

Minnesota’s regulators reversed their decision the next day, following widespread criticism online. But this isn’t an isolated government dispute in the new economy of shared services. Over the same week, on-demand car service provider Uber pulled out of the taxi business in New York after facing obstacles from NYC’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC to us locals). And the apartment-sharing marketplace Airbnb hired a government relations expert to help it face regulatory issues as it expands.

Clearly, issues around regulating the “sharing economy” — whether Coursera, Uber, and Airbnb, or TaskRabbit, Zipcar, and Couchsurfer — affect our daily lives in more ways than we realize.

Read full article as published in Wired.