Regulate Airbnb, Uber before they form monopoly: Dutch think tank
Sharing platforms like Uber and Airbnb must be regulated before they form a monopoly, Dutch think tank Rathenau Institute said in a report titled Fair Sharing on Wednesday. If these platforms aren't regulated, jobs in the regular economy will be put under pressure and the platforms will cause problems, the report states, ANP reports.
Sharing platforms tend to quickly grow into a monopoly because they can exercise their function better the more people join, according to the report. "The rapid development in scale puts pressure on existing public values", the researchers said. Sharing platforms also don't have to comply with the same rules as other companies in the sector. As a result, they can keep their prices low, and thereby create unfair competition.
In order to regulate these sharing platforms, the government must make their legal status clear, the report said. A third party could be appointed to supervise this.
A specific issue arising from sharing platforms, is the difficulty in taxing the revenue people make in this way. It is still difficult to keep track of money made in this way and it is often unclear from what amount the income should be declared.
The researchers emphasize that sharing platforms do have positive effects - such as innovation in sectors - and these effects must be stimulated. But public interests such as consumer protection, privacy and public order must not be overlooked.
For example, a service like car sharing platform Snappcar - in which people rent out their car when they're not using it - could help solve the parking problem in city centers. But if home sharing platforms like Airbnb go unchecked, it can lead to homes in cities being withdrawn from the housing market and nuisance to local residents.
The number of Dutch that make use of sharing platforms, job platforms like Helpling and second-hand platforms like Marktplaats, quadrupled over the past three years, according to the institute. Last year almost a quarter of Dutch used such platforms, compared to only 6 percent in 2013.