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Privacy in E-Commerce: Development of Reporting Standards, Disclosure and Assurance Services in an Unregulated Market

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  • Shyam Sunder
  • Michael Maier
  • Karim Jamal

Abstract

Government regulation of financial reporting by publicly listed firms, coupled with a punitive regime for violation of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), has been in place in the United States for seven decades. Whether this regime is effective or useful is an open question, especially in the absence of data on the behavior of unregulated economies. Privacy disclosure in e-commerce is essentially an unregulated environment with some parallels to financial disclosure. A study of privacy standards, disclosures practices and demand for audits can help accountants and security regulators project the consequences of a competitive regime sans regulation for accounting standards, disclosure and audit practices, and the effectiveness of opt-out practices of 100 high-traffic e-commerce Web sites. We observe four diverse sets of privacy standards (TRUSTe, BBB Online, WebTrust, and PWC Privacy) competing in this market, attracting clienteles of their own as reflected in privacy policies and the disclosure of such policies. With a few exceptions, actual disclosure and opt-out practices correspond reasonably well to stated policies in e-commerce. There is little evidence that the prevailing competitive regime induces a race to the bottom with respect to privacy standards and disclosures. We explore the implications of these results for the consequences of a competitive regime for regulation of financial reporting.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale School of Management in its series Yale School of Management Working Papers with number ysm359.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2002
Date of revision: 01 Dec 2002
Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:ysm359

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Keywords: e-commerce; Privacy; Regulatory Competition; Financial Reporting Standards;

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  1. S. J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 1994. "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 133-150, Spring.
  2. Shyam Sunder, 2001. "Standards for Corporate Financial Reporting: Regulatory Competition Within and Across International Boundaries," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm245, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Apr 2002.
  3. Sunder, Shyam, 2002. "Regulatory competition for low cost-of-capital accounting rules," Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 147-149.
  4. Shyam Sunder & Matthew Cronin & Darrin Filer & Robert Kraut & James Morris & Rahul Telang & Proceedings the, 2002. "Markets for Attention: Will Postage for Email Help?," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm394, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Oct 2008.
  5. Shyam NMI Sunder & Ronald A. Dye, 2001. "Why Not Allow the FASB and IASB Standards to Compete in the U.S.?," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm192, Yale School of Management.
  6. Michael L. Katz & Carl Shapiro, 1994. "Systems Competition and Network Effects," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 93-115, Spring.
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Cited by:
  1. Davison, Jane, 2014. "Visual rhetoric and the case of intellectual capital," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 20-37.
  2. Il-Horn Hann & Kai-Lung Hui & Yee-Lin Lai & S.Y.T. Lee & I.P.L. PNG, 2006. "Who gets spammed?," Natural Field Experiments 00271, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. repec:reg:wpaper:215 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Karim Jamal & Shyam Sunder, 2011. "Unregulated Markets for Audit Services," The Japanese Accounting Review, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University, vol. 1, pages 1-16, December.

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