Emory Law Journal


Sarah E. Light


The rise of the sharing economy exposes cracks in legislative and regulatory regimes. To date, scholars and policymakers have focused primarily on whether and how the government should regulate the sharing economy¿that is, on what form, if any, regulation should take. This Article focuses on a logically antecedent question¿who should decide. Using the potentially significant, yet uncertain, environmental impacts of Uber and Lyft as a case study, this Article argues that regulatory authority should be allocated according to the principle of precautionary federalism. Precautionary federalism embodies a default presumption in favor of multiple regulatory voices, and against broad exercises of preemption under such conditions. And precautionary federalism is time-bound¿it acknowledges that greater certainty about impacts may warrant a shift from one allocation of authority to another. This precautionary approach can serve an information-forcing function about the significance of uncertain impacts.