See this slide? This slide is your favourite content from all those e-commerce, e-platforming conferences of the past couple of years. And the EU says it’s dead.
This is a big deal.
In a ruling, announced this morning, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that Uber is a transport company, refuting Uber’s argument that “it is a computer services business with operations that should be subject to an EU directive governing e-commerce and prohibiting restrictions on the establishment of such organisations.”
Note that defence, “a computer services business”. It’s the same one, practically to the letter, that Facebook, Airbnb and others have used to describe their platforms.
Again from the ruling: “Such an “intermediation [platform] service must be regarded as forming an integral part of an overall service whose main component is a transport service. Therefore Uber’s operations must be classified not as “an information society service” but as “a service in the field of transport”.
In a way, this is the first big e-commerce story of next year. It sets in place regulatory momentum that is unlikely to stop with Uber. I’d add to this growing concerns about the rise of online extremism and the manipulation of social media in recent elections. To remain a force for good and to be perceived as such, the tech giants will need to respond and reform at pace. 2018 will be the year that happens.