Tech­nol­ogy can add risk to op­por­tu­nity

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - All copy pro­vided by Turner Free­man lawyers; turn­er­free­mannsw.com.au

IN RE­CENT years, tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances have led to rad­i­cal new ways of pro­vid­ing tra­di­tional ser­vices, from hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion to taxis.

While these new ser­vices have seen rapid growth based on the prom­ise of lower prices, con­sumers and ser­vice providers are of­ten un­aware of the per­sonal risks and le­gal im­pli­ca­tions that may be in­volved.

Two high-pro­file ser­vices are Airbnb, which al­lows peo­ple to profit from empty rooms or prop­er­ties by rent­ing them as guest ac­com­mo­da­tion, and UberX, which al­lows peo­ple to use their per­sonal car to pro­vide a form of taxi ser­vice.

While ad­vo­cates of the “shar­ing econ­omy” ar­gue that these tech­nolo­gies are sim­ply shak­ing up in­ef­fi­cient old in­dus­tries, they ig­nore the fact that ex­ist­ing laws and reg­u­la­tions have been put in place to pro­vide pro­tec­tions for con­sumers, work­ers and the com­mu­nity.

For ex­am­ple, prop­er­ties listed on Airbnb are not in­spected or reg­u­lated for safety like tra­di­tional ho­tels.

For home­own­ers, there are sim­i­lar risks, with prop­er­ties some­times used to host par­ties or as pop-up broth­els, and as a base for other un­de­sir­able ac­tiv­i­ties.

UberX has run into le­gal trou­bles in NSW, be­cause driv­ers do not com­ply with the re­quire­ments of the Pas­sen­ger Trans­port Act, which gov­erns taxi ser­vices.

Driv­ers are also ex­posed to ad­di­tional risks, such as hav­ing fewer safety fea­tures in their cars, is­sues with their in­sur­ance not cov­er­ing a com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity, as well as the risk of pros­e­cu­tion for breach­ing cur­rent leg­is­la­tion.

In NSW, the le­gal­ity of the UberX ser­vice is be­ing ex­am­ined. The NSW Gov­ern­ment has an­nounced the Point to Point Trans­port Task­force, in part to in­ves­ti­gate plat­forms such as UberX.

Sep­a­rately, an ap­pli­ca­tion for an in­junc­tion pre­vent­ing the use of the smart­phone app ser­vice was lodged this month in the NSW Supreme Court.

This le­gal ac­tion ar­gues that the UberX ser­vice is breach­ing the law by al­low­ing or aid­ing un­ac­cred­ited peo­ple to carry out a pas­sen­ger ser­vice for a fare.

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