Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb may have a champion in transportation pick Elaine Chao

uber settles driver background check case man driving in car the city ride share lyft getaround zipcar
Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies may find new support in Washington, D.C. Elaine Chao, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head up the Department of Transportation, has voice support for a light hand in regulating sharing or ‘gig economy’ companies, Fortune reported.

Chao previously served as secretary of labor under President George W. Bush for eight years and for two years as deputy secretary of transportation in President George H.W. Bush. So, assuming she will be confirmed, she will step into the Department of Transportation (DOT) leadership position with significant experience in  both labor and transportation-related issues.

In addition to programs for rebuilding the U.S. transportation infrastructure, Chao will also set the tone for and direct the DOT’s programs and policies for electric vehicles, fuel consumption and emissions standards, and autonomous vehicles. While she has made no public statements about those pressing issues, Chao is already on record in favor of the “sharing economy.”

Former Fortune editor Dan Primack noted that when Chao spoke at an American Action Forum in November 2015, she urged moving on from old paradigms in favor of a lighter regulatory hold on “in the digitally enabled, peer-to-peer economy.” Chao used ridesharing company Uber as her first example, stating that, according to a 2015 Uber study of 160,000 drivers, the Uber drivers had average net hourly earnings equal to or greater than conventional taxi drivers and chauffeurs, even though only seven percent of Uber drivers worked 50 or more hours a week, compared to nearly one-third of the traditional drivers.

Chao also mentioned Airbnb in the same address, stating that of the 90 percent of Airbnb hosts who rent rooms in their primary residences, many wrote to the company saying Airbnb helped them avoid foreclosure. “It’s just one example of how workers are using the sharing economy as a bridge during challenging economic times,” Chao said.

Chao cited other peer-to-peer businesses, including people who participate in online marketplaces such as Etsy, Ebay, Amazon, and Craigslist. Again, she stressed that most of the people who ran these small, independent business ventures on larger marketplace platforms were doing so to supplement their incomes, not as their primary income source.

Chao’s major point to policymakers was that existing labor laws and workplace regulations, many of which stemmed from the Great Depression, were not relevant in the gig economy. She concluded her presentation saying, “I believe there is room in our economy for a variety of approaches. We need to preserve the protections of the past for those who need them, while crafting new solutions that better fit the preferences of workers in the sharing economy. The digitally enabled, peer-to-peer economy has provided an important safety net for many families during difficult times. At a minimum, government policies must not stifle the innovation that has made this sector such an explosive driver of job growth and opportunity.”

If Transportation Secretary Chao is able to remain consistent with her earlier positions, government regulatory groups that seek to tighten control of the sharing economy transportation businesses will likely find little support and a lot of pushback from the federal government.


Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.

Tesla wirelessly gives the Model 3 a 5-percent increase in power

Tesla again showed the potential of its innovative over-the-air software updating system by making the Model 3 five percent more powerful via a firmware update. The Performance model gained 23 horsepower.

Fiat wants to transform the cheeky 500 city car into an urban Tesla

Fiat is finally preparing a new 500. Scheduled to make its debut in early 2020, the retro-chic city car will go electric in part to comply with looming emissions regulations.
Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?

Say goodbye to Uber for good: Here's how to cut ties with the ridesharing service

If you thought that deleting the Uber app would also delete your account, think again. You'll have to deactivate your account, then wait 30 days in order to do so. Here, we outlined how to delete your Uber account once and for all.

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.

Shift it yourself: How to drive stick in a manual transmission car

Driving a manual transmission car might seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Knowing how to operate this type of gearbox will serve you well. Here's everything you need to know to learn how to drive…

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.

Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.

This modified Land Rover Discovery is heading to Africa to help fight malaria

A Land Rover Discovery will be used by the Mobile Malaria Project for a 3,900-mile trek across Africa to study malaria. The SUV is equipped with a mobile gene-sequencing laboratory, as well as everything necessary for serious off-roading.