Impact Of E-Commerce And M-Commerce On Consumer Privacy And Fraud

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It’s no longer news that information technology has greatly changed the society in very many ways including the ways in which businesses are conducted today in relation to the purchase or selling of goods and services. In other words, it is only safe to conclude that e-commerce and m-commerce have become part of our daily lives. But even with all these technologies, not all the glitters is gold. There are definitely some concerns in relation to consumer privacy and fraud and it is also the reason why some clients have stopped transactions online because of some of the bad experiences they went through. Consumer privacy and fraud are very important concerns that require a high level of security. But first, let’s first define some of these terms before we can go ahead and discuss the impacts



This is defined as the kind of transaction that involves the buying and selling of goods and services online. In full it is termed as electronic commerce and it draws quite a number of technologies like electronic fund transfers, mobile commerce, internet marketing, supply chain management, electronic data interchange (EDI), online transaction processing, automated data collection and the inventory management systems.  Today the modern e-commerce makes use of the World Wide Web for at least a single part of the transaction life cycle even though it might also make use of those technologies for instance email.


This term was originally coined by Kevin Duffey in 1997 while at the launch of the Global Mobile Commerce Forum and it refers to the delivery of electronic commerce capabilities directly into the hands of the consumer anywhere through the use of a wireless technology. Other people would rather think of the term mobile commerce as a retail outlet that is in the consumer’s pocket. This kind of technology mainly occurs over the mobile technology like for example the tablets, smartphones and any other form of wireless device.


Consumer privacy basically refers to the laws and regulations that seek to protect any individual from any sort of loss of privacy that is due to the failures or the limitations of the corporate customer privacy measures. You know the damages that are done by privacy are usually not measurable and neither can it be undone and also the commercial organizations have no interest or little in taking any unprofitable measures to radically increase the privacy of the clients. It with without doubt that their motivation is in most cases the opposite, to share data for the purpose of commercial advantage and then to fail to formally identify it as sensitive, so as to prevent legal liability for lapses of security which might occur.


This can be defined as any unfair business practice that may include those that are very harmful to the consumer. Some of these kinds of unfairness may include things like false advertising, fraud, misrepresentation of a service or a good, hoaxes or scams.


  1. Technology: this is a very great impact towards e-commerce and m-commerce in consumer privacy and fraud. This is because today, there are very many technologies that have altered the current privacy debates like the ones used for surveillance, forming agreements like contracts about the release of the private data, then the technologies for labeling and trust and finally the privacy enhancing technologies. Now let’s look at some of them:
  • Technology for surveillance: now this kind of technology for surveillance as well as data capture is mainly used by companies for the same of business purposes. However they do have a negative side effect of being able to endanger the personal privacy like for instance data warehousing, generating data trails, biometrics and data mining. Most of this technical mechanism can lead to consumer profiles that are not based only on the individual’s dealings with one organization since their data is now being shared by the multiple merchants.
  • Privacy enhancing technologies: we need to balance these tracking mechanisms that try to either neutralize or defeat the surveillance or tracking technologies.  Some of the privacy enhancing mechanism include cookie like managers and personal firewalls. There are some other the privacy enhancing mechanisms that will make an effort to provide genuine anonymity and even include the anonymous remailers like mixmaster and the digital cash like eCash. There is also an active area of research and also development which are basically the systems that provide non-traceable identifiers like anonymous remailers, AT&T and so much more.

There is an innovative area of research that includes some of these labeling protocols like MIT/World Wide Web Consortium’s platform that is basically for privacy preference (P3P). This P3P lets the sites to be able to describe their data handling policies and then it allows the users to also describe their preferences for discharging private data. So, this way the sites will label they with the P3P while the user clients for instance the internet explorer will handle P3P statements and even preferences.  This way it will be possible to develop technologies to form contracts for the release of the private data. Then after wards other technologies will rise that are designed to assist those users be able to understand contractual terms or contract related fraud will arise.


  1. Social and business issues: there is a new technical environment for the businesses and consumers which has made privacy a concern in e-commerce and m-commerce technology today. This is because in most times it results into a data flow with substantial benefits to the businesses and the consumers in that the consumers have concerns in this new environment and the regulatory attempt that are there to govern this environment. That is why it is very important to have a deep understanding of each of these and even the tradeoffs. What shouldn’t forget that privacy as a business issue is a tremendously sensitive when it comes to the changes in the surrounding context. Some of these changes may include changes in the expectations of the people like when they get accustomed to data transfer in the commercial setting or in the regulatory governance like new laws, state transfer in commercial settings and so on. All these can easily radically change business issues and possibilities.

There is also the use of digital systems that’s lets data capture at a much greater rate and scope that in the past. So now these e-commerce and m-commerce sites can potentially gather an enormous amount of data about all the personal preferences, patterns, shopping and so on. This makes data collection very easy and also simple to search. There are new computational techniques that permit data mining for buying patterns as well as other personal trends. This kind of data can be used to personalize a client’s e-commerce experience, improve customer’s particular e-site experience and augment an organizations customer support. You can also reuse this data like for instance to assist you find potential sales to the existing customers and so on.


  1. Authentication: you should be aware that there are mainly three types of authentication mechanisms and these are simply; something you are, something you know or something you have. Subsequent to individual recognition of an individual then the most popular mechanism is the password. Because of a number of technical reasons, the password alone might not be secure enough especially in the long run. After that slowly we shall evolve from the systems that requires something you know like the passwords to the ones that require something that you have or something you are. That is when we shall come across many computers that are constructed with the ability to read an electronic card while in the possession of the user in the same way an automated teller machine at the bank does. There are times will this card will automatically be able to transmit the password and at times for the sake of greater security, the user will have to separately enter the password along with having a physical card.


Another new development is through the biometrics for instance pronunciation, fingerprints and retinal patterns as authentication mechanisms. This isn’t new but their application has been limited because of the user acceptance problems. This has an advantage in that there will be fewer cards as well as account numbers and finally a lot more efficiency for the systems and its users but on the negative side; abuse of power by a scoundrel and government the potential for nonresponsive bureaucracies to expand.


  1. Security vulnerabilities: there are very many points of vulnerability of failure in an e-commerce or m-commerce environment today. Even in the small businesses, one user can contact a single web site and then provides their credit cards and the address information for shipping a purchase and yet there are many security vulnerabilities that exist. What you don’t know is that even in that process that seems very simple, there will be very many systems and networks that are involved. Some security issues here include;
  • At some point, a user must use a website and they will have to identify or authenticate themselves to the site. Now normally, the authentication process will start at the user’s home computer and its browser and due to the security problems in home computers, it will provide hackers other means to steal e-commerce and m-commerce data as well as identification data for the users. An example is a home-banking system that keeps the account number for the user in the web ‘cookie’ in which a hostile web-site can easily crack.
  • Another thing is that the web browser of the user connects to the merchant front end. This usually occurs when a client makes an online purchase because then the merchant’s web browser will cache the information of the personal information in an archive of recent orders. Now the problem is that this archive now contains all the things required for a personal credit-card fraud. Plus remember it also maintains 90 days worth of client’s orders so what a hacker will do is break into an insecure web server so as to harvest these archives of the credit card numbers. So we should make sure that the sensitive servers are kept highly specialized through turning off as well as removing all the inessential services and applications.
  • Finally is the merchant’s back-end and database: the server of a site has the ability to weaken the internal network of a company however it is not something that is easy because the web server required an administrative connection to the internal network however the software of the web server tends to contain buggy security. This therefore makes the cost of failure very high with a high number of potential theft for corporate data or customer identity

When you look at these security issues above, you will realize that they are simply a model of e-commerce and m-commerce architecture and yet they still face very many security issues like the ones just mentioned above.



Conclusion: the research for the Impact of e-Commerce and m-Commerce on Consumer Privacy and Fraud is something that hasn’t yet come to an end. In the past, there have been some important findings but still there have been consequences for the e-commerce and m-commerce sites as well as the consumers. Today, there are very many people and businesses that understand privacy better because it is a social construction and yet at the same time it is referred to as a public issue by regulators. Even though Consumer Privacy and Fraud is something that is greatly imperfect due to the unending games by the security expert and hackers, we shouldn’t ignore that fact that there are also important technological developments that have been put into place especially in the last years that have greatly helped with this concern.


Vanilla Farmer, Amazon Retailer & Tech Researcher. Yosaki is my personal blog but I'm working on some big tech project back doors. I will keep on posting various topics on things I have knowledge about.

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