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This Essay considers antitrust and consumer protection liability for coercive practices vis-à-vis drivers that are prevalent in the rideshare industry. Resale price maintenance, nonlinear pay practices, withholding data, and conditioning data access on maintaining a minimum acceptance rate all curtail platform competition, sustaining a high-price, tacitly collusive equilibrium among the few incumbents. Moreover, concealing relevant trip data from drivers is both deceptive and unfair when the platforms are in full possession of the relevant facts. In the absence of these coercive practices, customers too would be better off due to platform competition, which would lower average prices by sharpening competition between incumbents, enable entry by rivals charging lower take rates, and unravel pervasive price discrimination. Coercive practices in the rideshare industry and elsewhere, and the business models they enable, result from the preference for hierarchy and domination inherent in the contraction of liability for vertical restraints since the 1970s.
Christopher L. Peterson and Marshall Steinbaum, Coercive Rideshare Practices: At the Intersection of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Law in the Gig Economy, 90 University of Chicago Law Review 623