Gig Briefs: Army outsources IT troubleshooting; FTC report tackles gig economy

In brief

Army to harness freelance help to address IT vulnerabilities

The U.S. Army this month announced plans to launch a “bug bounty” program, CyberScoop reports. The Army has teamed up with San Francisco-based cyber security company HackerOne for the program, which will pay freelance hackers for finding software flaws in the Army’s IT infrastructure. Such initiatives, Army Secretary Eric Fanning said, “offer a means for innovative citizens, patriots to contribute to (national security).”

Growth of gig economy may force Fed to adjust

The rise of the gig economy may require the Federal Reserve Bank to reassess how it interprets basic economic data and how it judges how close the economy is to maximum employment, according to Fortune magazine. “Taking into account the potentially varied effects of the rising prevalence of gig work on household welfare, public policy should strive to maximize the benefits of the greater flexibility and lower entry barriers provided by advances in technology, while addressing the risks that currently accompany many forms of gig employment,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said.

Airbnb introduces experience-focused service

Airbnb introduced a new service, Airbnb Trips, that CEO Brian Chesky says is the future of the company. Trips offers a variety of excursions led by freelance hosts. The experiences will include lessons from a samurai master in Japan, training with long-distance runners in Kenya and surfing with a local pro in Malibu, Calif., Vanity Fair reports. The new offering comes as Airbnb faces growing pushback from the hotel industry and local governments. “If we don’t grow past what we originally invented, what led to your success leads to your death,” Chesky said.

Digging deeper

FTC report addresses issues arising with sharing economy’s rise

The Federal Trade Commission this month issued a report on the sharing economy, which follows a workshop and submission of more than 2,000 public comments dating back to 2015. “The rapid growth of (sharing economy) platforms has stirred considerable debate over the application of state and local regulation to these platforms and the suppliers who use them,” the report says, highlighting the need to strike a balance between consumer protection and market conditions conducive to innovation.

The report underscores the challenge lawmakers face in deciding whether and how to regulate the growing economic sector, which is expected to generate $335 billion in revenue worldwide by 2025. “It is important to allow competition and innovation to continue to flourish, while at the same time ensuring that consumers using these online and app-enabled platforms are adequately protected,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement.

Study suggests declining wages, slowing growth for gig jobs

Growth in the number of workers joining the gig economy has slowed, and wages for these jobs have declined in the last two years, according to a new study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute. The study also found that as the traditional labor market has strengthened, the pool of people likely to use online platforms to make money has narrowed, and the unemployed use these platforms less than the employed.

Gig Briefs provides a roundup of top news and occasional long reads on the gig economy.

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