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Barriers to e-Commerce

Published by ICX
Authors: Chris Taper, Senior Security Consultant, Fujistu
First Published: 1999
Current Version: 1.2, July 2000
Cost: Members: £80
How do I obtain this: Contact ICX

Abstract: Whilst this document was written over 2 years ago, the issues and perspectives are as though they were written today. This is a seminal document providing excellent guidance and ground rules for any business about to embark on a mission critical electronic commerce project.

What's it about?
The objective of this publication is to identify the blockers, or barriers, to the successful implementation of secure electronic commerce with particular reference to Europe, but in a global context.

Some extracts:

From Section 2 - e-Commerce, blockers to implementation

Cultural Differences
Bribery - the level playing field of business has been known to be in danger of the habit of exchanging favours, presents, or the use of "consultancy" as a way of doing business. This will be true of the higher value deals, which have yet to figure in most Internet transactions. Stock dealing, perhaps excepted.

What are the key legal issues that will stand in the way of easy Electronic Commerce? Which member state is competent and which law applies. How will International recognition of Certificating Authorities occur? Legal issues are being, tackled by various parties - OECD, ICC and the European Commission, including its E-CLIP project.(See Other topics covered by ECLIP include liability of on-line intermediaries, contract law, user protection

Strong Encryption & Export Control Regulations
General - Governments have to balance the needs of, amongst other things, business with the requirements of law enforcement. Business demands include the need for a variety of documents, 'sensitive' information to be confidential and private. Indeed to protect the privacy of individuals, employees information needs to be protected against unauthorised use. Data Protection Directives, Acts focus on this protection and prohibits transfer of information to those countries which do not support such rules.

Tax Policies
Tax policies will continue to evolve. Currently there is the view not to tax Internet transactions. However, there can be a variety of taxes involved some of which may be applied others not. Local sales taxes on the product sold, a value added tax on the communications link from consumer to service provider, or an import tax on physical goods imported - which may be applied according to product, volume or price.

Electronic Fraud
The full extent of electronic fraud is not known - stories indicate that it is in the 'billions' of dollars - significantly high to warrant serious implementation of a full PKI sooner rather than later. The fear of fraud certainly deters a large number of potential Internet users, but the banks and insurance companies have clearly budgeted for an amount but surely cannot be sustainable. A major case study waiting to happen that will get publicised.