Author: Guido Noto La Diega
Citation: Noto La Diega, Guido (2016) Uber law and awareness by design. An empirical study on online platforms and dehumanised negotiations. Revue européenne de droit de la consommation/ European Journal of Consumer Law, 2016 (II). pp. 383-413. ISSN 0775- 3209
This article sheds light on the main consumer law aspects of the sharing economy through an empirical analysis of online platforms. Given the recent European consultation with the purpose of understanding (whether, or, more likely) how to regulate platforms, it is critical that consumer law considerations will be part of future regulations. For instance, it is hardly acceptable that the consumer acts in the belief that the contractual party (thus the potentially liable party) is the platform, but in reality the former disclaims any responsibility and claims to be a mere intermediary, which only seldom actually is. After a critical analysis of the Italian legislative proposal on platforms and collaborative economy, the articles moves on to illustrate the use case of Uber, the $60 billion ride-hailing platform, which is acting at the margin of existing laws, thus giving rise to protests and debate around the world. After an assessment of the Italian ruling preventing Uber to provide the UberPop service in Italy, the use case is the perfect tool to show the main reasons for concern of consumers is the lack of awareness of their rights and obligations. This articles deals with two factors of the said lack: the contractual quagmire and the corporate labyrinth. In the conclusions, it is presented an ambitious, albeit feasible, practical proposal. It is suggested the development of a mobile app that helps the consumers to assess the legal quality of the contracts they are entering in order to access the services offered through the platform. At the same time, this app, called ‘Awareness by Design’, should contribute to raise awareness in consumers, thus creating critical mass and making platforms understand that trust, transparency, and accountability are competitive advantages.