Koen Frenken: Safeguarding Public Interests in the Platform Economy

Frenken, K., van Waes, A., Pelzer, P., Smink, M., & van Est, R. (2019). Safeguarding Public Interests in the Platform Economy. Policy & Internet


This article examines the main public interests at stake with the rise of online platforms in the sharing economy and the gig economy. We do so by analyzing platforms in five sectors in the Netherlands: domestic cleaning (Helpling), taxi rides (UberPop), home restaurants (AirDnD), home sharing (Airbnb), and car sharing (SnappCar). The most salient public interests are a level playing fieldbetween platforms and industry incumbents, tax compliance, consumer protection, labor protection, and privacy protection. We develop four policy options (enforce, new regulation, deregulation, and toleration), and discuss the rationales for each option in safeguarding each public interest. We further stress that arguments supporting a particular policy option should take into account the sectoral context. We finally highlight the tension between the subsidiarity principle, which would call for local regulations as platforms mostly concern local transactions and innovation policies that aim to support innovation and a single digital market.


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