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ISO Approved the Establishment of a Technical Committee for International Standardization for the Sharing Economy in Response to Japan’s Proposal

January 7, 2019

In response to Japan’s proposal, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved the establishment of a new technical committee for the development of international standards for the sharing economy. This achievement is part of the project titled “International Standardization for the Sharing Economy,” which the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) commissioned to an external entity. In response to the approval, Japan will lead the committee, aiming to issue new international standards.

1. Background

As popularization of smartphones and social networking services (SNS) advances, individuals are smoothly able to openly share and exchange information on their skills and time available to complete potential work assignments etc. in real time. This trend has formed a new economic system called the “sharing economy” and the market has been expanding worldwide.

Meanwhile, in trading such information, some users raise concerns over the safety and trustworthiness of related services that individuals provide. Business operators of platforms for  trading in these types of services have been required to develop quality systems that enhance safety and trustworthiness for both information users and providers, (e.g., appropriate authentication of information providers and measures for addressing complaints and solving problems). Against this backdrop, the need for developing international standards for the sharing economy is growing.

Conceptual flow of the sharing economy

2. Past efforts

The Study Group for the Sharing Economy, a body led by the Cabinet Secretariat, has been advancing discussions on efforts for promoting the sharing economy, bringing together industrial associations, experts and related ministries and agencies, including sharing-economy service providers and the Sharing Economy Association, Japan. As an outcome of these discussions, in November 2016, the study group formulated model guidelines for the sharing economy as a collection of rules that platform business operators should observe.

In addition, as an effort for proposing the guidelines as new standards, in March 2017, Japan made a presentation on its initiatives, including the guidelines, at an ISO workshop for the sharing economy and its efforts were applauded by ISO member countries. Furthermore, taking the opportunities of exchanging views during the Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC), the Northeast Asian Security Forum (NEAS Forum) and with the major European standardization organizations, Japan has been establishing collaboration efforts with other countries for the development of new international standards for the sharing economy.

These efforts inside and outside Japan led Japan to win proactive agreements for standardization in the field from Canada, France, Germany, the ROK, Singapore and other countries. Against this backdrop and in response to Japan’s proposal, on January 3, 2019, the ISO approved the establishment of a new committee called the “Technical Committee for the Sharing Economy.”

3. Outline of the committee

The technical committee will hold discussions on development of international standards for the sharing economy.

Serving as the secretariat and chair, Japan will strive to lead the committee’s activities in developing new international standards, and the Japanese Standards Association (JSA), in cooperation with the Sharing Economy Association, Japan, and other entities, will play a core role in international standardization activities as a domestic accountability agent.

4. Future schedule

Around June 2019, the committee will hold its first international meeting in Japan and start full-fledged activities for developing new international standards for the sharing economy.

Division in Charge

International Standardization Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau