Marco Rubio used Uber to convince his liberal students to champion the free market



Marco Rubio wants to be President of the United States. And like most people who want to someday lead the free world, the Republican Senator from Florida wrote a book. I haven’t read it — life is short and precious — but Buzzfeed’s Kyle Blaine has, and apparently it contains a chapter called “Making America Safe for Uber.” Rubio details how he used the popular transportation app run by hyper-capitalist manchild Travis Kalanick to convince his liberal students at Florida International University of the glories of the free market.

“The students in my class were genuinely intrigued by this innovative service and wondered why they didn’t have it in Miami,” he writes. “I explained to them that it was because of regulations created by government.”

Rubio’s not wrong. Like many other cities that have banned Uber, Miami exerts strict control over taxies, limiting the number of drivers and barring newcomers like Uber from competing against industry incumbents. And considering the way Rubio frames the conflict — as the big bad government making it harder for students to get a cab home from the bar on Friday night — it’s no wonder he’s got his students lining up for an honorary membership to the Travis Kalanick Ayn Rand Fan Club, complete with decoder ring that lets you order an illegal Uber in cities where the service is prohibited.

But any disinterested observer who’s followed the company’s struggles closely knows this is a massive oversimplification. Yes, the limitations on taxi medallions are a pretty clear example of government regulation failing to serve both the public and markets. But what about insurance requirements? Safety requirements? And what’s the company’s responsibility when one of its drivers, er, “partners,” er “contractors,” commits sexual assault on the job? And should Uber be allowed to share our non-anonymized location data on where its riders use the service? Or would the government be “overstepping its bounds” by enforcing data-sharing laws that benefit the public?

In truth, Uber is a much more appropriate illustration of the way free market principles and governments can work together to shape industries in ways that are both fair to new entrants and safe for consumers. It’s too bad Rubio didn’t teach that lesson — and they say liberals are the ones indoctrinating our college students.

[photo by Gage Skidmore]



This ruling may convince retailers like Target to take data breaches more seriously


Cut up credit cards

The data breach said to have affected 110 million consumers who shopped at Target in the tail-end of 2013 might become even more expensive for the beleaguered retailer.

According to Reuters, a judge says consumers whose credit cards were compromised via the breach will be allowed to sue the company because the plaintiffs “plausibly allege that they suffered injuries that are ‘fairly traceable’ to Target’s conduct.”

US District Judge Paul Magnuson also said earlier this month that banks affected by the data breach could sue Target for the cost of replacing an estimated 40 million credit or debit cards. The reasoning for both decisions is similar: there’s a good chance Target failed to properly secure consumer data or respond to the hack as well as it should have.

Target now faces the possibility of having to reimburse banks, which spent a collective $ 400 million replacing cards whose information was stolen during the data breach, and cover the cost of credit monitoring services and other fees incurred because of the hack. It might also become the foundation of a campaign against other retailers and payment companies whose actions or inaction have led to similar leaks of private information.

That’s bad news for other companies which have been hacked in the last year. The full list is probably too long to include here, but some of the more high-profile hacks have occurred at the Home Depot, Kmart, and other businesses across the United States. In many ways, the increasing frequency of these breaches is making them seem commonplace:

Target’s data breach was a shock. The Home Depot’s was an irritation. The news that a few hundred Jimmy John’s stores were compromised by an attacker barely seems newsworthy.

Forget the issues major companies have implementing basic security tools, or the ingenuity with which attackers gain access to their targets — neither is the biggest threat to our security. Sure, they’re horrifying, but they’re not as scary as the idea that people just don’t give a damn.

But perhaps it will finally be enough to convince companies they need to handle information as sensitive as someone’s credit or debit card number — not to mention the email addresses, phone numbers, or physical addresses many retailers collect — with a little more care. It’s no longer acceptable for companies not to vet their hires or transfer unencrypted payments data or refrain from incorporating even basic security measures.