Privacy issues in Ecommerce1

Topics: Human rights, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Ethics Pages: 5 (1734 words) Published: March 11, 2015

The adaptation of commercial activities on the internet is among one of the most interesting development of the technological age. E-commerce has revolutionized the business world by providing a wide range of cost effective opportunities for conducting business in different global markets from the convenience of homes and offices. However, consumer concerns regarding privacy greatly hinders the progression of E-commerce. Westin (1967) defined privacy as the power of an individual to control the terms under which their personal information is accessed and used .Different laws and legislations have established privacy as a fundamental human right. For example, Article 8 of Human Rights Acts (1998) states that "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence”. This therefore makes privacy a serious issue in E-commerce. The sharing of vital data through daily transactions implemented online not only affects individual’s privacy but raises security concerns as well. As a part of the Information security framework, E-commerce security affects a wide range of components including Data security and Computer security (Niranjanamurthy and Chahar,2013). There are two categories of computer threats namely; insiders and outsiders (Stamatellos, 2007). Inside threats originate from factors or personnel within the organization. Outside threats on the other hand generally consist of malefactors like hackers, cyber criminals or individuals who have no direct connection with the company. They not only pose threats to businesses and consumers but also introduce new security challenges to other sectors like the banking industry through the integration of online electronic payment systems. Another factor that also plays a role is consumer ignorance. Most buyers have obscure ideas about the risks involved in conducting transactions on the web and as a result not all necessary precautions are taken. This article will focus on the B2C (Business-to-consumer) branch of Ecommerce where businesses sell commodities to buyers through the internet. The major ethical, social, professional and legal issues involved will be examined from the viewpoint of different stakeholders which include consumers, IT professionals and business owners.

Ethics as an aspect of moral philosophy is a grey area and as such we need ethical principles and theories to guide our decisions (Duquenoy, Jones, Rashanu and Diaper, 2005).The issues mentioned here will be examined from the viewpoints of two influential ethical theories namely; Kantianism which embodies the idea that moral rule is either 'good' or 'bad' with no conditions attached to it and Consequentialism which morally deals with the consequences of actions rather than the action itself (Duquenoy, et al.2005). Privacy violation is a dominant ethical issue in E-commerce. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(n.d) states that ”No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation…”,Therefore from the Kantianism point of view it would be deemed as unethical when websites analyze an extensive amount of consumer’s personal data with the possible inclusion of third parties because the customer’s privacy was breached by sharing their personal data without consent. Conversely, from the viewpoint of business owners Consequentialism would be in favour because the study of consumer behaviour aids companies in developing better marketing strategies and trends such as behavioural marketing which is not only crucial to business success but also improve overall online shopping experience for users. Although ethical from this viewpoint, it does have legal implications which we will later examine. Another ethical issue to consider in online shopping is Price discrimination. This is where the seller charges different prices from...
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