Certain technological developments that enable individual consumers to control third-party access to personal information that they must provide in legitimate e-commerce transactions will significantly assist consumers in protecting themselves. Biometrics and properly safeguarded passwords, for example, can help to ensure that unauthorized persons cannot access individual consumers' computers. Various hardware and software solutions, such as encryption protocols, can also provide substantial security for consumers who access particular Web sites.
In the long term, if e-commerce is to become truly global in character, consumers should be able to expect that regardless of where they reside and where an online business is organized, has its principal place of business, or initiates its online communications with prospective consumers, they will have comparable levels of timely and effective responses to their complaints or disputes, whether those responses take the form of dispute resolution processes or government action on their behalf. This will be especially important, as consumers in one country cannot reasonably be expected to travel personally to other countries, or to retain legal counsel in those countries, to dispute particular transactions or to contact law enforcement authorities if the transactions appear to be fraudulent or otherwise criminal. Effective consumer protection in a global environment must involve developing or enhancing measures that foster legitimate e-commerce (e.g., commercial practices and dispute resolution mechanisms), as well as measures that halt or discourage illegitimate e-commerce.
2. At a minimum, in any global e-commerce transaction, a consumer should be given a level of protection equivalent to what he or she is entitled to receive in offline transactions, or at least a notice about the fact that legal protections to which they are accustomed in domestic law are or may be inapplicable or unavailable in that transaction.
3. While nations must be cautious not to create undue interference with the natural development of free and open e-commerce, they must also recognize that anonymity and pseudonymity in transactions may make consumer protection and criminal prosecution difficult or impossible, and encourage the market to develop solutions that satisfy the needs of both governments and consumers.
4. Four basic principles determine a successful e-business strategy. First, companies should remember that the Web is a primary marketing tool and companies should build their businesses around this philosophy. Second, the Web will dramatically transform traditional business methods. Examples include the creation of hybrid distribution channels and a cannibalization of a company's product lines. Third, the availability of technology will help in building new infrastructure which will lead to an exponential growth in warehouse storage capacity. Finally, education is the key to improving knowledge and awareness about e-business. This will involve top-to-bottom training of managers, the supply base, customers and workers.
2. Private legal actions are unlikely to provide effective protection for consumers or businesses in transnational e-commerce transactions.
3. While a number of companies are looking for security experts, many could be hesitant to go about the search publicly for fear of raising consumer and investor concerns.