In his landmark 1971 article, economist George Stigler wrote: “Regulation is acquired by the industry, and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit.” Occupational licensing is a classic example.
Digital currencies: 2017 ushered in a boom in so-called “initial coin offerings,” but so far the Securities and Exchange Commission has only issued one no-action report and a string of charges against fraudsters.
Online privacy: Early in the Trump administration, Congress overturned the FCC's privacy rules for internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Charter and Comcast. The rules didn't apply to web giants like Google or Facebook, who supported their repeal.
- The cryptocurrency industry is clamoring for regulators to finally declare what qualifies as securities (among other questions). And it would also like some further guidance from the Internal Revenue Service, which has kept mum since a short 2014 memo, notes Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva.
Financial advisers: Brokerage firms want more clarity about an Obama-era fiduciary rule that was overturned this year. The rule required financial advisers to work in their client's best interest — and not push products with higher fees, even if they produce less-than-stellar returns.
- In the wake of high-profile data scandals and an increased interest in reining in Big Tech's power, policymakers from both parties are revisiting the need for federal privacy rules. This time, the telecom and tech companies are on board with rules — partly because they're inevitable, and partly to pre-empt state regulations are are cropping up all over the country.
- But firms have already shifted investment products and altered structures of broker fees in preparation for the regulation's full implementation. The question is what's coming back and when. The SEC has since taken up the issue, proposed "Regulation Best Interest" and put it high on its 2019 agenda, Axios' Courtenay Brown reports.
The bottom line: Companies may feel safer handing government the hot potato of figuring out where to draw lines around potentially controversial technologies to help limit their own liabilities. But government may not be inclined to limit its own freedom to use the new tools, as may be the case with facial recognition and drones, notes Axios' Ina Fried.