With the development of internet technology, a significant number of online transactions are now taking place through the internet. Most of these transactions are taking place mostly in Asia, North America, and Western Europe. In the recent past, the use of E-commerce has challenged legal presumptions and suppositions about the meaning and location of business activities such as laws and regulations that govern business operations. Regarding geographical space, boundary-less-ness of virtual businesses has promised online clients and buyers a sense of liberty, a form of inconvenience as well as individual anatomy. Nevertheless, the surfacing of virtual spaces has raised several concerns regarding confidentiality of data, the privacy of consumers and rights of online shoppers (Ruggles 2014, p. 49). This essay presents and critically analyzes various legislative concerns and legal implications of e-commerce which deserve more considerable attention from the legislators and regulators of law and business.
E-commerce is a transaction of carrying out business through an online platform. E-commerce is a type of business activity where firms participate in selling their services and products through electronic devices such as internet services or computer networks throughout different geographical locations (Laudon and Traver 2018 p. 49). In the present world, e-business is widely used and is spreading quickly. E-commerce is made possible since it has provided enormous opportunities in the business sector by decreasing the market entry barriers. Besides, e-commerce raises legal issues where the appropriate tax regime, contracts, and the governing laws are made. Offers and acceptance are deemed to occur where involved parties engage in EDI, exchange contacts or email messages or express their opinions by filling out forms on each other’s web pages in online businesses. These actions also constitute intentions to be bound by express or implied contracts. Contracts in online business are valid with or without signatures. Article 11 (UN conventions on international sales (CISG) contracts validates contracts that have not been signed in all online business but have all the intentions and correspondence that clearly spell out the intentions of the parties involved and the terms of service have been honored and consideration executed . According to article 11 (CISG) a signature is not a prerequisite of recognizing a valid contract in online business. All online sales implicitly warrants that goods sold are ostensibly fit and are as per the description of the purchaser. To avoid any liability on warranties the seller has to make a warranty disclaimer. The disclaimer makes it clear that the seller would not in any way, implied or not honor the warranty.
Electronic commerce draws on technologies and hi-tech devices such as inventory management systems, supply chain management, online marketing, automated data collection systems, mobile technology, electronic funds transfer such as PayPal and Upwork, and online transaction processing. With e-commerce, shoppers can purchase music by downloading them in the form of digital distribution like iTunes Store. Besides, individuals can buy online books by using internet technology provided by companies like Amazon.com. Indubitably, shoppers can obtain what they need at any place and their convenient time. This means that online buyers have liberty and freedom to choose what they would like to purchase since they are not bounded by factors such as the cost of travel, weather, and distance.
Electronic commerce brings liberty and convenience for shoppers since they only require browsing the website online. In this regard, customers do not have to leave home to buy products that are not readily available in the existing nearby shops and retail stores (Endeshaw, n.d. p. 26). Undoubtedly, this form of online buying and selling of goods and services assists shoppers in obtaining a more extensive range of products. Besides, it saves time for the customers. Through online shopping, consumers gain power since there are no boundaries of buying. The client, in this case, does not have to travel to the location where the products are being sold. They are in a position to compare prices and research product among the existing intermediaries and retailers. Furthermore, online shopping is more prices effective for shoppers since it offers discounts code, gifts, and sales promotion.
On the other hand, e-commerce lacks human interaction for shoppers, and in particular customers who prefer face to face business interaction. More often than not, clients tend to remain loyal to well-known sellers since they may be concerned with the privacy and security of online transactions (Ziegeldorf, Morchon, and Wehrle 2013, p. 52).
Raised autonomy and personal independence and self-rule for shoppers’ poses questions on the legal validity of contracts and contracting regarding online business. Enforceability of transactions particularly when disputes arise is affected by the convenience of buying products from any part of the universe. In addition, raised liberty may as well render customers to encroachment of privacy rights. In pursuance to safeguard business due to these matters, it is imperative for the legal stakeholders to familiarize themselves with such jurisprudential concerns.
In handling e-commerce transactions, one of the primary challenges is the lack of physical signatures. In essence, online business transactions take place without paper or any physical illustration or representation of the transactions. In traditional business setup, handwritten signatures authenticate contracts by offering a unique form of identification for the signee (Chaudhury, Kuilboer, and J.-P 2002 p. 29). They also assist in showing the association between the person and the document being signed. Traditional signatures are highly useful in proving that the signee was involved in the online transaction.
Furthermore, e-commerce has a way of validating, and certification referred to as an electronic signature. At times, it is in the form of a secret code, a typed name, a pin number or a scanned image of the handwritten signature of an individual. Besides, digital signatures can as well be utilized. The digital signatures come in the form of encrypted messages that only react to a specific key when being decrypted. In comparison to other electronic signatures, the latter form is highly secure. Regardless of the type of signatures chosen, specific legal implications still exist. Stakeholders and legal regulators are yet to decide on the circumstances in which electronic signatures deserve trust (Endeshaw, n.d. p. 45). Moreover, it is still unclear whether these signatures contain the same weight as traditional ones. Some signatures seem to hold greater authenticity than others.
The e-commerce business model provides numerous opportunities however similar to offline contracts; e-commerce transactions will as well give rise to disputes and ensure shoppers confidence in transacting online, there needs to be a satisfactory method of resolving disputes. In particular, the problems of addressing client complaints in e-commerce transactions are perpetuated by the issues regarding governing law and the fact that conflicts are cross-border (Kanwar, Singh, & Kodwani, 2009, p. 12).
According to Heinonen, Holt, and Wilson (2012 p. 355) several principles guide the legal framework that is established in a particular country. The framework should permit the utilization of online business transactions by not offering under the control of online operations. The websites are growing on a daily basis and thus should be allowed to spread out on its own instead of a limit that restricts the growth and expansion of the business. The government, with the legal framework should focus on supporting and putting into practice reliable, expected and simple lawful background (Kanwar, Singh, and Kodwani, 2009, p. 11).
E-commerce transactions are of growing significance to consumers, governments, and enterprises. In relation to data protection and privacy rights, there are various shortcomings and conflict of laws in e-commerce even though there is a higher dependency on electronic commerce. The critical barrier and challenge is lack of trust and security. Data breaches and online fraud are growing concerns that needs sufficient regulatory and legal frameworks to enhance cross-border and domestic trade. Another conflict of the laws is observed while adopting a suitable regulatory and legal framework. The rapid evolution of markets and technologies, as well as complexity of cyber rules and regulations, makes the context to be challenging.
In conclusion, electronic contacting by shoppers and consumers is becoming more and more popular since e-commerce is growing fast. On the other hand, computerized fraud is rapidly rising. This paper analyzed the legislative concerns and legal implications of e-commerce that ought to have more significant attention from business regulators and legislators. Currently, most online transactions are carried out through the use of the internet. Thus, regarding geographical space, there are no boundaries of business transactions. With these said online customers are promised convenience, a sense of liberty and individual autonomy.
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