Tuesday, June 14, 2016 by Greg White
Big government regulations are preventing businesses from flowering on both a local and national stage. By making businesses jump through regulatory hoops and pay extortionary taxes, progressive governments are actually regressing tech innovation.
At the local level, Austin, Texas recently voted to require ridesharing companies to perform mandatory fingerprint background checks on its drivers in order to turn up criminal records.
Companies like Uber and Lyft protested that the mandate was gratuitous and not as effective as its current system. In particular, Uber pressed its third-party provider Checkr, included court records and other biographical data, and was better than fingerprint checks, which are based on incomplete federal databases, the NYTimes reports. In addition, fingerprint background checks are costly on both companies and drivers, especially on people just trying to make some side cash.
Rather than succumb to progressive government regulations, Uber and Lyft decided to leave the city of Austin. As a result, more than 10,000 drivers are out of work, according to Taylor Patterson, an Uber spokeswoman. “Folks are devastated. People are saying, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent,’” she said.
Adding to these remarks, Lyft said in a statement: “Unfortunately, the rules passed by the City Council don’t allow true ride-sharing to operate. Instead, they make it harder for part-time drivers, the heart of Lyft’s peer-to-peer model, to get on the road and harder for passengers to get a ride.”
Austin is known for being a progressive city in Texas. Rather than stand at the forefronts of innovation, however, government regulations pushed out a budding industry that helped ease traffic in an already highly congested area.
Although the story made national headlines, it did not receive nearly as much attention as Apple refusing court orders to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, thereby demonstrating how big government threatens tech innovation on an even greater scale.
Major companies like Facebook and Microsoft voiced their support for Apple in its battle against the U.S. government. The companies are joining forces against the government by purporting the All Writs Act does not force Apple to abide by its request.
“The government’s demand here, at its core, is unbound by any legal limits,” the companies argue in a statement. “It would set a dangerous precedent, in which the government could sidestep established legal procedures authorized by thorough, nuanced statutes to obtain users’ data in ways not contemplated by lawmakers.”
Other tech companies like Airbnb, Atlassian, Automattic, Cloudflare, eBay, GitHub, Kickstarter, LinkedIn, Mapbox, Meetup, Reddit, Square, Squarespace, Twilio, Twitter and Wickr were also part of the filing, according to ZDNet.
These companies ought to be commended for taking a stand against big government regulations. Such regulations place an unjustifiable burden on small businesses and makes them less competitive against foreign competition.
“The court order is akin to the government dictating a letter endorsing backdoors and forcing Apple to sign its forgery-proof name at the bottom,” noted EFF Civil Liberties Director David Greene. “What the FBI asked the court to do violates free speech rights and puts the security and privacy of millions of people at risk. We are asking the court to throw out this dangerous and unconstitutional order.”