The emergence of innovative platforms has extended the notion of online sharing to the vibrant new domain of sharing of material goods and services. We call this phenomenon 'the sharing economy'.
With companies such as Airbnb, Uber, Taskrabbit, and Transferwise dominating the market, user numbers of sharing services have skyrocketed and expect to grow further, enabling ever new avenues of economic and social interaction to appear. Currently, the sharing economy is dominated by US companies, but European start-ups are increasingly exploring business potentials in the sharing space.
Online service start-ups create attractive work opportunities and contribute to smart and sustainable growth in the EU. The sharing economy, in particular, promises to provide more inclusive business opportunities for individuals of various skills levels and resource endowment. When discussing the sharing economy, the benefits of these platforms to society are frequently lauded: financial profit, interpersonal bonding, environmental sustainability etc. However, this public rhetoric of chances, growth, and inclusion frequently contrasts with the risks, concerns, disadvantages, and exclusion in the experience of a variety of users.
Given that these platforms often extend into the private and physical realm of their users - even into their homes - both the compound privacy risks and potential for exclusion and discrimination through ratings-based sanctioning present a variety of challenges which need to be addressed.
This EU Horizon 2020 Research Project: Ps2Share is thus concerned with questions of participation, privacy, and power in the sharing economy. With funding granted by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Growth Strategy, this one-year research project will be conducted alongside a consortium of international researchers from Norway, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, and Switzerland.
Our overarching objective is to identify key challenges of new ICTs and improve Europe’s digital services through providing recommendations to Europe’s institutions (schools, companies, governmental and non-governmental organisations). We aim to foster better awareness of the consequences which technologies, networks and new digital media have on the way people behave, think, interact, and socialise as persons, citizens, workers, and consumers across Europe.
In our research, we include diverse stakeholder perspectives and sources of expertise, but also hope to facilitate public deliberation on desirable practices and policies. We deliberate on new and old responsibilities, remaining sensitive to all perspectives, not only the individual and social, but also the corporate and technological perspectives that drive these changes.We will overall contribute to research on responsible innovation, hoping to generate insights into future, culturally and technology induced changes to our sense of ownership, collaborative consumption, and privacy.
In constructing policy, we aim to provide steps toward more modern regulatory and policymaking approaches for our stakeholders, helping create a more balanced digitized economy that is socially acceptable to all. We derive practicable recommendations for European businesses and service providers in terms of policies, design, and management to ensure smart, sustainable, and inclusive business growth.We emphasise the importance of responsible design of sharing platforms in respect to participation, privacy, and power issues, raising corporate awareness of sharing providers’ and consumers’ rights and needs.