Electronic commerce, more commonly abbreviated as e-commerce, is the action of buying and selling products or services through the medium of electronic information systems such as computer networks - the most common of which being the World Wide Web, or internet (Dorogovtsev & Mendes, 2003). A variety of technologies are used to facilitate e-commerce including electronic funds transfer (EFT) which facilitates the electronic exchange of money, online transaction processing (OTP) which handles the data entry and retrieval for transaction processing and electronic data interchange (EDI) which is responsible for processing orders, warehouse stock control and order tracking (Turban, et al., 2009).
There are four major types that e-commerce can be separated into. Business-to-Business (B2B) deals solely with business to business transactions, usually between companies (Turban, et al., 2009). An example of such would be a company purchasing business supplies from another company. Business-to-Consumer (B2C) occurs between companies and consumers, and usually involves purchasing physical products but now also commonly involves digital content such as music and e-books (Turban, et al., 2009). Business-to-Government (B2G) refers to commerce between companies and the public sector whilst Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) is commerce between private individuals for example websites like eBay and Amazon Marketplace (Turban, et al., 2009) – it is expected that this sector of e-commerce has a lot of potential to grow (Mintel, 2013). It is also worth mentioning that Mobile Commerce enables e-commerce capabilities directly into a consumer’s hand via their mobile device, wherever they are, thanks to the advancement of mobile internet and wireless technology (Wu & Wang, 2005).
It is currently estimated that over 2.4 billion of the world’s 7 billion people are now connected to the internet – a 566% rise since 2000 (Miniwatts Marketing Group, 2013). In Europe - Germany, France the United Kingdom accounted for 71% of all European e-commerce sales, with the UK having the overall market share with 12.7% of all sales between 2008-2012 (Centre for Retail Research, 2012). By the end of 2013, the UK e-commerce sector will be worth an estimated 33 billion pounds (Mintel, 2013), highlighting the importance of reliable regulation of the sector.
With 34% of the world population already connected to the internet - and that number only set to rise further - e-commerce, and the legal issues surrounding it, are in the middle of an ever-changing landscape and must adapt to overcome these new challenges. As more people become connected and the internet expands, e-commerce must recognise and deal with new technologies and the implications that they bring with them. Furthermore, as the internet is a globally reaching technology that no central authority owns, or is in charge of regulating, it raises a number of regulatory and legal questions, especially in regards to e-commerce which often...