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Ethical, Social, and Political Issues in E-Commerce

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Presentation on theme: "Ethical, Social, and Political Issues in E-Commerce"— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethical, Social, and Political Issues in E-Commerce
Chapter 8

2 Learning Objectives Recognize the main ethical, social, and political issues raised by e-commerce Understand basic concepts related to privacy Identify the practices of e-commerce companies that threaten privacy Describe the different methods used to protect online privacy Understand the various forms of intellectual property and the challenges involved in protecting it Understand how governance of the Internet has evolved over time

3 Why is the Internet at the root of so many contemporary controversies?
Part of the answer lies in the underlying features of the Internet technology itself, and the ways in which it has been exploited by organizations and individuals Internet technology and its use in e-commerce disrupt existing social and organizational relationships and understandings

4 Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Significance
Unique Features of E-Commerce Technology and their Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Implications (Table 8.1) E-Commerce Technology Dimension Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Significance Ubiquity Work and shopping can invade family life Shopping can distract workers at work lowering productivity Use of mobile devices can lead to automobile or industrial accidents Global reach Reduces cultural diversity in products Weakens local small firms while strengthening large global firms Easier to move manufacturing production to low-wage areas of the world Weakens nation’s abilities to control their information destiny Universal standards Increases vulnerability to viruses and hacking Increases the likelihood of “information” crime

5 Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Significance
Unique Features of E-Commerce Technology and their Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Implications (cont.) E-Commerce Technology Dimension Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Significance Richness Reduces use of text and potentially the ability to read Enables development of persuasive messages that may reduce reliance on multiple independent sources of information Interactivity Interaction with commercial sites may be shallow and meaningless Customers do not really “co-produce” the product Amount of customization is minimal Information density Total amount of information increases, but so does the possibility of false or misleading information, unwanted information, and invasion of solitude Overall information quality may decline Individual information overload

6 Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Significance
Unique Features of E-Commerce Technology and their Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Implications (cont.) E-Commerce Technology Dimension Potential Ethical, Social, and Political Significance Personalization/ customization Opens up the possibility of intensive invasion of privacy for commercial and governmental purposes that is unprecedented Social technology Creates opportunities for cyberbullying, abusive language, and predation Creates new challenges to privacy Creates new opportunities for surveillance by authorities and other organizations into private lives


8 Privacy and Information Rights
Privacy is the moral right of individuals to be left alone, free from surveillance or interference from other individuals or organizations, including the state Information privacy is a subset of privacy Important issues: What information is collected? Is the information personally identifiable? How is collected information used?

9 The Internet’s Major Information Gathering Tools (Table 8.3)
Smart phones and apps Advertising networks Social networks Cookies Spyware Search engine behavioral targeting Shopping carts Forms Site transaction logs Search engines Digital wallets (single sign-on services) Digital rights management (DRM) Trusted computing environments

10 Mobile and Location-Based Privacy Issues
There are numerous examples of privacy concerns related to mobile devices and location-based information: In 2012, investigators discovered that iOS and Android apps were funneling location information to mobile advertisers, along with users’ address books and photos Twitter announced that anyone using its “Find Friends” feature on smartphones was also sending every phone number and address in their address books to the company In April 2011, a furor erupted over news that Apple iPhones and iPads and Google Android smartphones were able to track and store user location information According to a 2012 survey, 42% of smartphone users said privacy and security are their top concerns

11 Profiling and Behavioral Targeting
Marketers would like to know who goes online, what they are interested in, and what they buy Profiles characterize online individual and group behavior Anonymous profiles (highly specific and targeted groups) Personal profiles Additions to offline marketing techniques Can track purchases and all browsing behavior on the Web Dynamically adjust what the user sees on the screen Can build and continually refresh images or consumer profiles Spyware can be used to report all consumer Internet use back to advertising firms Objections have been raised to Google’s integration of personal information from all of its services Deep packet inspection is a technology for recording every keystroke at the ISP level of every Internet user (no matter where they ultimately go on the Web)

12 E-Commerce Surveillance
Today, the online and mobile behavior, profiles, and transactions of consumers are routinely available to a wide range of government agencies and law enforcement authorities Striking a balance between security and liberty is at the center of the privacy debate Law enforcement authorities have long claimed the right to monitor any form of electronic communication pursuant to a court order and judicial review and the reasonable belief that a crime is being committed Some recent legislation has tried to strengthen individual privacy protections, but others have required online companies to retain and share even more consumer data with government agencies

13 Legal Protections In the US, Canada, and Germany, rights to privacy are explicitly granted in, or can be derived from, founding documents such as constitutions In England and the US, there is also protection of privacy in the common law (a body of court decisions) Some of the major federal and state privacy laws are summarized in Table 8.4 US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommendations regarding online profiling are summarized in Table 8.6


15 The European Data Protection Directive
In Europe, privacy protection is much stronger than it is in the US In the US, private organizations and businesses are permitted to use PII gathered in commercial transactions for other business purposes without the prior consent of the consumer Privacy laws are often enforced through individuals suing to recover damages (this is expensive and rarely done) The European approach is more comprehensive and regulatory in nature (enforced by data protection agencies) For example, European countries do not allow business firms to use PII without the prior consent of consumers How may this difference impact a global online retail company?

16 Intellectual Property Rights
Once intellectual works become digital, it becomes difficult to control access, use, distribution, and copying The major ethical issue related to e-commerce and intellectual property concerns how we (individuals and organizations) should treat property that belongs to others There are three main types of intellectual property protection: Copyright Patent Trademark

17 Copyrights In the US, copyright law protects original forms of expression such as writings (books, periodicals, lecture notes), art, drawings, photographs, music, motion pictures, performances, and computer programs from being copied by others for a period of time Copyright protection is for a period of 95 years for corporate-owned works, and life plus 70 years for works created by individuals Since the first federal Copyright Act of 1790, the intent behind copyright laws has been to encourage creativity and authorship by ensuring that people receive financial and other benefits from their work

18 Fair Use Doctrine There are situations where strict copyright observance could be harmful to society, potentially inhibiting other rights such as right to freedom of expression or thought The doctrine of fair use permits teachers and writers to use copyrighted materials without permission under certain circumstances (fair use): Character of use Nature of the work Amount of work used Market effect of use Context of use

19 The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 was the first major effort to adjust the copyright laws to the Internet age For example, the DMCA includes sections that: Makes it illegal to circumvent technological measures to protect works Requires ISPs to “take down” sites they host if they are infringing on copyrights Permits users to make a copy of software for maintenance or repair of the computer Allows libraries to make digital copies of works for internal use Extends musical copyrights to include “webcasting”

20 Patents “whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent thereof, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.” – Section 101, U.S. Patent Act A patent grants the owner a 20-year exclusive monopoly on the ideas behind an invention What are some examples of “patentable” e-commerce processes? Why are e-commerce patents so controversial? A list of selected e-commerce patents is in Table 8.12

21 Trademarks A trademark is “any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof … used in commerce … to identify and distinguish … goods … from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods.” – The Trademark Act, 1946 Internet and Trademark Law Examples (Table 8.13) Cybersquatting Cyberpiracy Metatagging and keywording Linking and framing

22 Governance Governance of both the Internet and e-commerce has gone through four stages: Government control period ( ) Privatization ( ) Self-regulation (1995-present) Governmental-regulation (1998-present) What are the benefits of stronger Internet regulation? What are the benefits of reduced regulation? Other issues include online commerce taxation and Net neutrality

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