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European Union information law and the sharing economy

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Abstract

The sharing or collaborative economy, including prominent platform-based businesses such as Uber and Airbnb, harnesses online technology to match service providers and users. The EU has identified this sector as providing wide-ranging opportunities for growth, while acknowledging its potential to disrupt existing regulatory frameworks and, in this way, create risks for service providers and users alike. This chapter focuses specifically on the information law-related aspects of the sharing economy. In a move to support certainty in the area and to clarify its own position, the EU has recently published its agenda on the collaborative economy. This policy document is analysed in the light of its implications for EU information technology law and policy. Areas such as intermediary liability, data protection, ratings systems and the use of algorithms are analysed to draw conclusions on the effectiveness of the EU’s regulatory approach and to make predictions for the future development of law and policy.