Ethical, Legal, and Regulator Issues on a B2C Web Site Vs. a B2B

NOTE: These papers are meant to make you think and contain thoughtful opinions.

Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) web sites have several differences in the way information can be conveyed to their customers and how transactions need to be conducted. B2B web sites connect entities with similar technical backgrounds and well defined legal parameters for conducting business. B2C web sites must deal with the least common denominator when it comes to conducting business with the average consumer on the Internet today. This paper will examine privacy rights and obligations and communication with children and the different ethical, legal, and regulatory issues on a B2C web site in comparison to a B2B web site.


Privacy Rights and Obligations

Privacy rights and obligations of B2B and B2C web sites differ due to the differences in the customer base. Business Law governs B2B web sites, such as copy write and patent laws. “The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 is the main law governing privacy on the Internet today. Of course, this law was enacted before the general public began its wide use of the Internet.” (Schneider, G.P., (2004), pg. 307). This means that Internet usage by the general public is left to the ethics of the business the customer is dealing with.



 “One of the major privacy controversies in the United States today is the opt-in vs. opt-out issue.” (Schneider, G.P., (2004), pg. 308). A majority of companies’ conduction B2C e-commerce on the Internet today apply the opt-out policy, which requires the consumer to indicate to the company that they do not want their personal information used for other purposes other than the direct business transaction. The ethics of the opt-out policy has many consumers worried about giving their personal information to any business that does not expressly state the information will not be distributed to other business entities. Some web sites, like Sun Microsystems, will ask you for your email address, but will allow you to download the information you need if you decide to opt-out of providing the information.



 Businesses need to rely upon ethics when dealing with consumers. Some of those guidelines are:

·        Use the data collected to provide improved customer service.

·        Do not share customer data with others outside your company without the customer’s permission.

·        Tell customers what data you are collecting and what you are doing with it.

·        Give customers the right to have you delete any of the data you have collected about them. (Schneider, G.P., (2004), pg. 309).


Companies have the ability today to collect all types of data on their customers and visitors to their web sites, but in order to gain the trust of the their clients, they need to insure them there personal information is safe and will not be shared with anyone other than the company to which is was supplied. Any tracking software should be disclosed to consumers, so they can make the decision if they want to continue on the web site.


Communications with Children

Communication with children is a major issue with e-commerce today. This issue pertains mainly to B2C web sites as opposed to B2B web sites. B2B web sites exchange information between two contractually bound entities. However, B2C web sites need to find a method to obtain the age of their customers, since they are dealing with everyone and anyone who can obtain Internet access. The problem is, “how do you obtain the age of the consumer?”



 Child consumer laws are not only meant to protect children, but also to protect businesses. Contracts entered into by consumers not of majority age are non-binding. However, it is very difficult to check a driver’s license on the Internet. One method used to warn that a site is not appropriate for children is to post an age disclosure document on the home page of the web site, but that does not prove how old the user is who agrees to the disclosure. Another method is to require a credit card to make a purchase, but knowledge of how a credit card works is fairly common today.



The ethical and legal issues associated with communicating with minors will be best left to the child’s parents and schoolteachers. Cyber Patrol is designed to block certain web sites from minors. However, the parents need to take the time to set up the software and monitor the sites visited by their children. Government regulation will prove to be ineffective, because not all countries are willing to create this type of regulation or to enforce the regulations already in existence.



Ethical, legal, and regulatory issues will differ on business-to-business sites as opposed to business-to-customer web sites. The differences are not due to a lack of concern, but time. Business regulation is constantly changing, but it has a basis from which to evolve and e-business was just another means of conduction business-to-business transactions. However, business-to-consumer web sites are fairly recent and will need time to develop ethical, legal and regulatory measures to protect both the business and consumer.   


Schneider, G.P., (2004). The Environment of Electronic Commerce: Legal, Ethical, and

Tax Issues. Electronic Commerce: The Second Wave (5th ed.). pg. 307. Retrieved

June 25, 2006 from eRsource.

Schneider, G.P., (2004). The Environment of Electronic Commerce: Legal, Ethical, and

Tax Issues. Electronic Commerce: The Second Wave (5th ed.). pg. 308. Retrieved

June 25, 2006 from eRsource.

Schneider, G.P., (2004). The Environment of Electronic Commerce: Legal, Ethical, and

Tax Issues. Electronic Commerce: The Second Wave (5th ed.). pg. 309. Retrieved June 25,

2006 from eRsource.


Mike Kniaziewicz, MIS

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