Some Internet and E-Commerce Legal Perspectives Impacting the End User

Some Internet and E-Commerce Legal Perspectives Impacting the End User

Peter P. Mykytyn Jr. (Southern Illinois University, USA)
Copyright: © 2002 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-931777-15-5.ch003
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Abstract

Not too many years ago, hardly anyone had heard the terms “Web browser,” “Web,” or “electronic commerce.” Today, the World Wide Web, often referred to as simply the Web and as the Internet, offers almost limitless opportunities for end users to do research, obtain comparative information on different products or services, and conduct business online. Many users today, for example, have experienced the opportunity to visit competing web travel sites, e.g., Travelocity.com and Expedia.com, to price airline fares, obtain car rental information, and make a hotel reservation. More often than not, it seems, end users are also intrigued by the fact that prices for the same flight or car are not necessarily the same at the sites searched; in a way, users have become much more savvy in their selection of products and services. In general, end users can become much more efficient and effective as they conduct business online, and both consumers and businesses can participate in unrestricted buying and selling. Consequently, the Web is changing the way businesses do business, and, of course, it is changing the way many end users conduct their business as well. Electronic commerce (e-commerce) mainly consists of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) types of transactions. According to an e-commerce survey (Survey E-Commerce, 2000) B2B transactions accounted for 80% of all e-commerce and added up to $150 billion in 1999. Further, B2C transactions in the US amounted to about $20 billion that same year. Although there continues to be a “shaking out” period involving dot.com organizations, questions and decisions about whether to develop Web-based storefronts along with the traditional brick and mortar outlets, e-commerce will most likely continue to expand. But while e-commerce grows, maintaining control over on-line transactions and business risks creates challenges that may not be apparent to unsophisticated end users. One of these challenges pertains to the various and assorted legal issues that confront end users as well as the e-commerce businesses where end users shop. Whether buying or selling on the Web or even just establishing one’s home page, legal issues, in addition to providing protection, can also present pitfalls to the unwary. This paper discusses briefly two of the legal issues that can confront today’s end users as they do business over the Web. They are matters dealing with contract law and jurisdictional questions.

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