Government Technology

Uber, Lyft, Airbnb Harness Users to Lobby Lawmakers for Them

January 12, 2015 By Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle

(TNS) -- As Uber, Lyft and Airbnb battle regulators worldwide, they can summon a powerful weapon: battalions of loyal users — drivers, passengers, hosts and guests — who swarm lawmakers with e-mails, petitions, rallies, testimony and tweets supporting the companies.

The three exemplify a new generation of technology that upends traditional businesses like taxis and hotels. Uber and Lyft arrange paid rides in people’s cars, while Airbnb arranges vacation rentals in people’s homes. They generate controversy as they skirt laws regarding insurance, safety and taxes. But the companies say that “20th century” rules need to be updated for their new ways of doing business.

And they’ve had remarkable success in mobilizing customers to lobby for them.

“These companies are disruptive in their lobbying strategies,” as well as their business models, said Edward Walker, associate professor and vice chairman of the UCLA sociology department.

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