– The WTO e-commerce accountability problem

Lax regulatory frameworks in developing countries have been an impediment to the global development of e-commerce (Pare, 2003, Primo Braga, 2005, Sharma and Gupta, 2009, Kshetri, 2007, Mann, 2000). Part of the problem is that the internet involves virtual transactions which by their nature are much more difficult to control than trades in goods and services linked to face-toface interactions (Kim et al., 2011, Ivy, 2007). This is especially so in developing countries with perhaps other more pressing priorities. It is perhaps for this and related reasons that in a globalized world businesses wanting to conduct e-commerce often prefer to set up in developing countries perceived as ‘safe havens’– even if the targeted consumers are primarily based in developed countries (Broadhurst, 2006). This paper will explore the need for the WTO framework to better recognize and address the associated accountability issues of a developed—developing country divide when it comes to the growth and changing nature of e-commerce. It will also do so in terms of how the internet communications revolution represents a force of change challenging any residual assumptions that e-commerce is merely an extension of traditional notions of commerce. FULL PAPER HERE