The Internet has received a great deal of attention in the media lately due to its tremendous
growth in usage by both consumers and businesses. The unique capabilities of the Internet has captured the attention of the marketing community. While a growing number of companies have or are interested in developing an Internet presence, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about it and the potential ethical issues associated with its use as a marketing medium. Although many businesses are acknowledging the importance of a Web site, but the potential ethical issues related to marketing on the Internet still having an uncertainty in this situation. Much less attention has been given to the business community's perceptions of the ethicalness of this new medium. The unique interactivity of the Internet has captured the marketing community's interest as a way to develop and enhance customer relationships and establish greater brand identity. Thus, many commercial services have become available on the Internet that allow consumers and organizations to interact electronically. These services include booking airline tickets online, buying books and compact discs, and receiving stock market information. Although the number of consumer users and commercial organizations navigating on this "information superhighway" is growing almost exponentially, the benefits of the Internet are not without drawbacks.
Privacy is the condition where someone personal information can not be documented and be used by others (Parent, 1983). Privacy has been and continues to be a significant issue of concern for both current and prospective electronic commerce customers. The following review of an ethical framework is coupled with a discussion of security concerns specifically related to electronic commerce. Miller and Weckert (2000) present an ethical framework through which privacy concerns should be viewed. With regard to web interactions and e-commerce the following dimensions are most salient:
1. Privacy consists of not being interfered with, having the power to exclude; individual privacy is a moral right.
2. Privacy is a desirable condition with respect to possession of information by other persons about him/herself on the observation/perceiving of him/herself by other persons (Miller and Weckert, 2000)
3. Facts pertaining to objects owned, and monies earned are held to be private by one's ownership.
The motive of enhanced producer profitability in this instance is in conflict with a user's right to data security and prevention against data mining. Web surfers are not the employees of third party, Web vendors - they are instead independent seekers of information who have a moral right to unmonitored browsing. "Websites are taking your personal information and running with it. They use it themselves. They sell it, and sometimes its stolen from them" (Life on the Web, 2000)....