Share, & share alike? Emerging issues (+ legislation?) within online sharing economy: New tech, old issues? #mscedc

The above Tweet refers to this Guardian article:


A stand-out for me, from this article, is an exchange with Tom Slee, who has written against the sharing economy:

“Does Slee think discrimination in the sharing economy could be more insidious than in the real world? “I do, because it is not yet sorted out who has the responsibility to prevent it,” he replies. “Airbnb and Uber routinely claim they are not accommodation or transport providers, so “don’t discriminate” rules don’t apply to them. These claims need to be resisted: platforms must take responsibility for their service. Even getting the data that has disclosed discrimination has taken hard work from academic and independent researchers, because the sharing economy companies don’t have to report on the activity that takes place on their platforms.””

The sharing economy feeds into community cultures. And it rushes ahead of data, legislation and even responsibility. And new practices refract old prejudices, sometimes amplifying them, sometimes mediating them, sometimes reducing them. Technology in itself is neither the totality of the problem, nor of the solution.  Companies’ own terms and conditions can help or exacerbate the issues.

Regarding “the sharing economy” (critical note: a risk of excessive singularity here?), Ben Edelman, co-author of the report informing this article, judges  it to be a deregulation movement:

“I call it spontaneous private deregulation,” he says. “Spontaneous because it happens on its own and private because it’s the company deregulating itself. So if you ask me, it’s the worst of all the deregulatory efforts. Somehow Airbnb, Uber and others have found they can get away with it if they get big enough.”

Perhaps new – and big – technologies mean new – and big – issues. Inevitably.