Uber Law and Awareness by Design. An Empirical Study on Online Platforms and Dehumanised Negotiations

I have published an article that 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, an ambitious, albeit feasible, practical proposal is presented. 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.

Please cite as Guido  Noto La Diega, ‘Uber Law and Awareness by Design. An Empirical Study on Online Platforms and Dehumanised Negotiations’ (2016) 2 Revue européenne de droit de la consommation/ European Journal of Consumer Law 383

The full text is available at https://ssrn.com/abstract=3277557

Published by guidonld

I am Associate Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Privacy Law at the University of Stirling, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, where I lead the Media Law and Information Technology Law courses. I am an expert in the legal issues of Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, and blockchain. Holder of a PhD (Unipa), a postdoc (QMUL), and an HEA Fellowship, I have a strong publication and bidding record and my works on Intellectual Property, Data Protection, Information Technology Law, Consumer Protection, and Human Rights have been cited by the EU Court of Justice’s Advocate General, the House of Lords, the European Commission, and the Council of Europe. Outside of the University of Stirling, I am Director of ‘Ital-IoT’ Centre of Multidisciplinary Research on the Internet of Things, Visiting Professor at the University of Macerata, Fellow of the Nexa Center for Internet and Society, Fellow of NINSO Northumbria Internet & Society Research Group, and I serve on the Executive Committee of the Society of Legal Scholars, the oldest and largest society of law academics in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Most of my publications can be downloaded for free on SSRN, ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and LawArXiv.

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