Frankfurt Paper on Platform-Based Work
Proposals for platform operators, clients, policy makers, workers, and worker organizations
“Crowdsourcing” refers to the practice of outsourcing work to an unspecified “crowd.” Contemporary crowdsourcing is typically performed over the internet through a technological intermediary, often called a “platform.” In the last ten years, private individuals and organizations of all sizes and in all sectors have begun to use crowdsourcing as an alternative to hiring employees or specific contractors. While crowdsourcing was first applied to small, low-wage information tasks performed over the internet, the model of “platform-based work” has since been applied to a huge array of services, including both remote and in-person services and low- and high-wage work. Platforms now act as labor brokers for industrial and graphic design, engineering, programming, administrative tasks, marketing and customer service, scientific research, transportation and logistics (i.e., taxi and delivery services), domestic work, retail quality control (i.e., “mystery shopping”), legal services, accounting, and sex work. Workers on such platforms are often classified by platform operating companies as independent contractors, and are therefore typically excluded from the legal and social protections established for employees over the last hundred years.