Spontaneous Deregulation

by Benjamin Edelman and Damien Geradin

MANY SUCCESSFUL PLATFORM BUSINESSES—think Airbnb, Uber, and YouTube—ignore laws and regulations that appear to preclude their approach. Caught up, perhaps, by enthusiasm for their model and a belief in its utility for customers, the founders and managers of these companies seem to see many of the existing rules as unwanted holdovers from a bygone era not yet ready for their innovations. In this worldview, the laws and regulations need to be changed to reflect new tech-enabled realities. Perhaps the rule breakers also remember the maxim credited to Grace Murray Hopper, a pioneering naval officer and computer programmer: It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission.

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