Sharing economy platforms are made possible through multiple forms of convergence
When goods and services are virtualised around us with the swipe of a mobile screen, it is hard not to believe we are living in a science fictional world. The convergence of fast and easy electronic payment systems with geolocative matchmaking software has brought a seeming abundance of choice and convenience to consumers in many sectors. At the same time, virtual jobs or crowdwork have risen in proportion to standard employment as a source of income for many. The recent pledge by Elon Musk that soon our self-driving Tesla cars will generate money for us after depositing us at work blurs the line between producer, consumer and owner even further. The technologically disruptive features of sharing economy services promise widespread change: by lowering both fixed and marginal costs, they make it difficult for traditional suppliers to compete; through standardized protocols they can quickly achieve global scale; by linking individual preferences to peers they further disintermediate between the private sphere and market.
A special issue of Internet Policy Review, edited by Kris Erickson (CREATe) and Inge Sørensen (CCPR) at the University of Glasgow, explores the regulatory challenges posed by the sharing economy. Each contribution to this special issue provides a lens on economic and social dimensions of sharing economy practice. Articles are focused on policy issues rather than individual case studies of platforms. The regulatory concerns covered by the contributions in this issue include the ontological status of shared goods, the conditions of crowdworking, the regulation of trust between strangers, the definition of relevant markets for competition regulation and European audiovisual media policy. [Download PDF]
Internet Policy Review is a free and open access journal on Internet regulation in Europe, published by HIIG Berlin in cooperation with CREATe and CNRS France.