Data as a Common in the Sharing Economy: A General Policy Proposal
It is nowadays a common place to say that the sharing economy is not really about sharing but about making profits and benefiting a few much more than others. A movement that takes the best of the technologies of sharing economy platforms but orients it to benefiting all, platform cooperativism, is on the rise. Nonetheless, it is far from being popular and nothing indicates that it will. This paper investigates the reasons why dominant platforms remain dominant and proposes a policy that aims at curtailing their dominance, fostering platform cooperativism and maximizing the beneficial societal effects that can be derived from exploiting the data generated in platforms. The paper is structured as follows. Section 1 reviews current definitions of the sharing economy, points out their contributions and limitations and offers a novel and more accurate definition. Section 2 briefly introduces platform cooperativism to show why it can be a tool to fix many of the problems of the sharing economy. Section 3 explains and discusses market power mechanisms specific to the sharing economy that help dominant platforms to remain dominant. Some already existing and proposed solutions to counter these market power mechanisms such as reputation passports, a market for personal data and antitrust remedies are evaluated. Section 4 presents a general policy proposal based on making data a common in the sharing economy using reciprocity licenses. Section 5 offers some clarifications regarding the proposal and sketches some of its shortcomings and open questions that arise from it.