Sharing platforms such as Uber and Airbnb should be regulated to ensure they don’t end up creating monopolies, the influential Rathenau Institute said in a new report on Wednesday.
Without regulation, jobs in the traditional economy could come under pressure or the platforms could end up creating other problems in society, the institute said.
The sharing economy, whereby people lend their property to others for a fee, has positive effects and does drive innovation forward, the report said. However, public interests such as privacy, consumer protection and the public order should not be forgotten.
The number of people making use of sharing platforms in the Netherlands has quadrupled in four years, and now one in four people say they have rented a house, borrowed a car or tools, or found an handyman using such websites.
But there is no guarantee of a level playing field with the normal taxi or hotel sector, the institute says.
‘It is in the public interest to give sharing platforms enough room to innovate,’ says institute director Melanie Peters. ‘But we have to regulate them before they become too dominant in their sector.’
The report makes three main recommendations to the government. Firstly, the legal status of sharing platforms needs to clarified. Secondly, an independent regulator needs to be established to ensure the privacy of participants. And thirdly, the data collected by the platforms should be transferable.
‘Sharing platforms are data-driven and largely dependent on the data and the reviews of their users,’ Peters said. ‘We propose making sure that users can take their data with them to other platforms.’