Flexibility of regulation for technology

Uber is welcome...or are they?Uber has been in the news a bit recently, coming up against some legal challenges regarding their service versus traditional rules for taxi operations. In response to this, Minister Craig Foss has announced a review of the relevant legislation: http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/small-passenger-services-review-underway 

Uber is not InternetNZ's core business - indeed, the link to our interests is pretty tenuous. This post isn't about Uber – it’s about how the Government chooses to respond to the challenges technology creates for legislators, and that in this case, the Government seems to be doing a good job. 

The Internet creates a range of new business and social opportunities that interrupt standard practices. It's through this process that any number of the wonderful innovations that we enjoy today has occurred, think for example the way the eBay/TradeMe model has completely upended the business of classifieds. Newspapers still haven’t recovered. Sometimes though, that comes into conflict with the established way of doing things.

We talk to the Government a lot, and one of our Policy Principles comes up quite regularly in these conversations - that technology changes quickly, so laws and policies should focus on activity. That seems to be relevant here too, and exactly the spirit in which Minister Foss is thinking about what to do about the law around taxis and hire cars. I quote from the Minister's press release: “We aim to ensure New Zealand’s regulatory environment is both fit for purpose and flexible enough to accommodate new technologies.

This is what I find so interesting about this Uber matter - not that it involves Uber in particular, but that it shows the Government moving relatively quickly to respond to technical innovation in a sensible, considered matter, and that seeks to accommodate that innovation rather than stifle it. 

So, in the spirit of where credit is due i like what I hear here. And I hope that when we continue to talk to the Government about challenges that regulation creates for new Internet based technologies, and continue to do so with reference to the policy principle listed above, that the Government will continue to have such an accommodating attitude to innovation through technology.