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Information Systems

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LESSON 41
E-Commerce
Electronic Commerce (e-commerce or EC) describes the buying, selling, and exchanging of
products, services, and information via computer network, primarily the internet. Some people
view the term commerce as describing transactions conducted between business partners. E-
business is a broad definition of EC, not just buying and selling, but also servicing customers,
collaborating with business partners, and conducting electronic transactions within an organization.
41.1  Why E-Commerce?
Due to rapid expansion in business, and time pressures from customers, Efficiency in delivering
products and information there to and addressing complaints is of paramount importance. Use of
internet or web services can be a very effective tool in achieving this goal. It helps to achieve
various business goals in the fastest possible way, e.g. sharing production schedules with suppliers,
knowing customer demands for future in advance. These days almost almost all businesses have E-
commerce, from fast food chains to automobile manufacturers. Online orders can be placed along
with online payment made. All this is possible with the use of E-commerce. According to Lou
Gerstner, IBM's former CEO,
"E-business is all about time, cycle, speed, globalization, enhanced productivity, reaching new
customers, and sharing knowledge across institutions for competitive advantage."
What does E-Commerce do?
E-commerce is what happens when one combines the broad reach of the Internet with the vast
resources of traditional information technology systems. It uses the web to bring together
customers, vendors, and suppliers in the ways never before possible. E-commerce presents
abundant opportunities. Companies around the world already buy and sell over the Internet. They
connect with customers, suppliers and each other. They do the business on the web, and
consequently, they do more business. There are challenges like security, scalability and reliability.
They are real but they are surmountable. E-commerce is about web-enabling your core businesses
processes to improve customer service, reduce cycle time, get more results from limited resources,
and actually sell things.
In the age of global competition, e-commerce can play a critical role in helping organizations to
boost sales at high margins due to the high economies of scale. It is something which is becoming
need of the day.
41.2  E-Commerce vs. E-Business
Since both the terms are quite commonly used interchangeably, the scope is often confused
likewise. All e-commerce is part of e-business. Not all e-business is e-commerce. E-business means
using the internet and online technologies to create operating efficiencies, and therefore increase
value to the customer. It is internally focused. Think swift integration of planning, sourcing,
manufacturing, management, execution, and selling using IT infrastructure. Example, FedEx is a
company incorporating e-business programs to improve efficiencies throughout the supply chain.
For instance, moving the invoicing process online reduced costs as well as officers' time spent on
paperwork. Now this would be seen as E-business not e-commerce. Concerns for e-business
usually are which are broader than:
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1.
Has e-business increased your effectiveness?
2.
Were our processes faulty before we moved them online?
3.
Are we gaining efficiencies in specific areas?
4.
Have relationships with suppliers or customers improved?
5.
Are our web-enabled systems assisting in decision making, or just providing access to
information?
6. Does our e-business strategy fit with our overall corporate strategy?
If there is a direct financial transaction involved with the electronic process using Internet
technologies it is e-commerce. If there is a non-financial transaction with an electronic process
using Internet technologies it is e-business. Any transaction with an electronic process using
Internet technologies is e-business. For example, ordering a book on Amazon.com is e-commerce
and e-business. Creating a map with directions from your home to the post office on google maps
is e-business (no e-commerce involved). The above confusion is quite similar to what exists
between Marketing and sales. Sales is part of Marketing. Marketing includes other activities, such as
Advertising which is not Sales. The most prevalent of E-Commerce models can be classified as
1. Business to Consumer (B2C)
2. Business to Business (B2B),
3. Business to Employee (B2E),
4. Consumer to Consumer (C2C) and
5. E-Government
 Government to Citizens/Customers (G2C)
 Government to Business (G2B)
 Government to Government (G2G
41.3  Business to Consumer (B2C)
All elements of physical shopping experience are present in the B2C Model. There is a store
represented by a website known as store front. Potential customers browse through the storefront
using web browser (like Netscape or Internet Explorer). If they like a product, they select it by
adding it to your Shopping Cart. If the customer wants additional information from the vendor, he
would do so by either investigating relevant links on product specifications, or by sending message
through a `contact us' or email section of the website. Finally, once you have selected your product,
you pay for it using any of several payment methods, the most common of which is a credit card.
When the average citizen interact with a company through a website, buying shoes or books online
or making inquires of products and services, we are doing so through the Business to Consumer
model. The B2C model is similar to a customer visiting a store or shop, browsing at products on
display, inquiring from the shopkeeper about a particular product, and then selecting and paying
for the product or service.  One of the major differences between a traditional shopping
experience and B2C e-commerce Model is that all of this is done electronically, remotely through
the internet, without you having to leave the comfort of your house or office. Customers and
suppliers can be 10,000 miles apart, in different cities or countries, or even different continents,
and yet do business as if they were located in same city or on the same street. Since the internet
never sleeps or closes customer can do business 24- hours of the day, 365-days of the year. Bad
weather, strikes or labor problem will not prevent the customer from visiting the store and placing
their orders.
The real reason that B2C is flourishing in technologically advanced societies is that it has broken
down `physical' barriers to doing business. This has allowed even small, less financially sound and
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often suspicious entities, to represent and partner with brand name companies. Resultantly, when
you visit a storefront on the web, you are not certain whether the vendor (whose site you are going
to shop at) is in `control' of the entire business cycle. In most cases, the storefront owner is just a
small link in the complicated supply and distribution network that has been made possible through
the Internet. Should the relationship between any of the intermediaries fall apart, the customers
may not have too many options to address his complaints.
Business to Business (B2B)
Traditionally, because transactions between business partners is conducted by mailing or faxing
documents like Purchase Orders, Delivery Note or Invoices. Business to Business (B2B) is a
model to e-commerce where businesses conduct commerce amongst themselves over the
Internet/Intranet. What this entails is two or more business partners entering into agreements,
whereby instead of using paper documents to complete a transaction cycle, they do so through
electronic means, sharing data over secure Internet or Intranet connections. While the volume in
terms of number of transactions through this e-commerce model is smaller than that generated
worldwide through B2C, the monetary turnover through B2B is significantly higher, especially on a
per-transaction basis.
Example ­ B2B and B2C
A car manufacturer company receives an order for delivery of a car through internet. The payment
is also made by the consumer through the internet using his credit card. On receiving the order the
company may have to order manufacturing of the unit and certain principal parts may not
available. In such a case, an online purchase order may be sent to all the vendors where ever they
are located to seek the relevant parts. Hence the consumer, the vendor and the manufacturer all are
linked through e-commerce.
Example ­ B2B
A car manufacturer (like Pak Suzuki for example) can mail or fax a purchase order formatted per
its company's requirements, to a steel supplier (like Pakistan Steel Mills), and conduct a purchase
transaction. Under the B2B Model however, industry standards (such as Electronic Data
Interchange) are used for transmitting data related to commercial transactions between the
manufacturer and the supplier. Pak Suzuki, therefore, will be required to pre-format its purchase
order data as per the standard, while Pakistan Steel Mills will setup their systems to accept the PO
data per the expected standards. Any deviation form these standards could make the transaction
null and void.
41.4  Electronic Data Interchange (EDI):
EDI is a set of standards for structuring information to be electronically exchanged between and
within businesses, organizations, government entities and other groups. The standards describe
structures that emulate documents, for example purchase orders to automate purchasing. The term
EDI is also used to refer to the implementation and operation of systems and processes for
creating, transmitting, and receiving EDI documents.
Business to Employee (B2E)
Companies are finding many ways to do business with their own employees electronically. They
disseminate information to employees over the intranet. For example, they also allow employees to
manage their fringe benefits and take training classes, electronically. In addition, employees can buy
discounted insurance, travel packages, and ticket to events on the corporate intranet, and they can
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electronically order supplies and material needed for their work. And many companies have
electronic corporate stores that sell a company's product to its employees, usually at a discount.
Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
An increasing number of individuals are using the Internet to conduct business or to collaborate
with others. Auctions are so far the most popular C2C e-commerce activity. Some other C2C
activities are:
1. Classified: Individuals used to sell items by advertising in the classified section of the
newspaper. Today, they are using the Internet for this purpose. Some classified services are provided
for free.
2. Personal Services: A variety of personal services are offered on the Internet, ranging from
tutoring and astrology to legal and medical advice. Personal services are advertised in the
classified areas, in personal web pages, on Internet communities' bulletin, and more. Be very
careful before you buy any personal services. You need to be sure of the quality of what you
buy.
3. Peer-to-Peer and file exchange: An increasing number of individuals are using the P2P services
of companies. Individuals can exchange online digital products, such as music and games.
41.5  E Government
E-Government / electronic government / digital government, or online government. The terms
refer to government's use of information and communication technology (ICT) to exchange
information and services with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. E-Government
may be applied by legislature, judiciary, or administration, in order to improve internal efficiency,
the delivery of public services, or processes of democratic governance. The primary delivery
models are
1. Government-to-Citizen or Government-to-Customer (G2C)
2. Government-to-Business (G2B) and
3. Government-to-Government (G2G).
Government to Citizen (G2C)
Government-to-Citizen (abbreviated G2C) is the online non-commercial interaction between local
and central Government and private individuals. Many government entities in pakistan are making
it more convenient for the citizens to interact with them. For example
1. CBR offering services regarding (www.cbr.gov.pk)
Online verification
Sales tax registration status
Online availability of tax returns
2. NADRA registration system (www.nadra.gov.pk)
NIC registration process
Bill Payment Kiosks
Guidance notes
Contact information
Complaints section for applicants
Government to Business (G2B)
Government-to-Business (abbreviated G2B) is the online non-commercial interaction between
local and central government and the commercial business sector. The basic difference between
the G2C setup and G2B set up is that government is dealing with private individuals (citizens) in
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case of G2C and commercial sector in case of G2B. For Example, trade development authority of
Pakistan, formerly Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). (www.epb.gov.pk), providing
 Facilitation for exporters
 Exporters' database
 Guidance on regulations
 Registration and complaints procedures
Government to Government (G2G)
Another category of electronic commerce is government to government E-Commerce. G2G form
refers to Procurement transactions between government to government agencies.
41.6  Other Forms of E-Commerce
Intra-business E-Commerce ­ E-Commerce can be done not only between business partners, but
also within organizations. Such activity is referred to as intra-business EC or, in short intra-
business. E-Commerce between and among units within the business ­ large corporations
frequently consist of independent units, or strategic business units (SBUs), which "sell" or "buy"
materials, products and services to and from each other. Transactions of this type can be easily
automated and performed over the intranet. An SBU can be considered as either a seller or a
buyer. An example would be company-owned-dealership.
E-Learning
E-Learning is the online delivery of information for purposes of education, training, knowledge
management, or performance management. It is a web - enabled system that makes knowledge
accessible to those who need it, when they need it ­ anytime, anywhere. E-learning is useful for
facilitating learning at schools.
Conflicts within click-and-mortar organization
When an established company decides to sell direct online, on a large scale, it may create a conflict
within its existing operation. Conflict may arise in areas such as pricing of products and services,
allocation of resources (e.g. advertising budget) and logistics services provided to the online
activities by the offline activities (e.g. handling of returned items purchased online). As a result of
these conflicts, some companies have completely separated "clicks" (the online portion of the
organization) from the "mortar" (the traditional brick and mortar part of the organization). This
may increase expense and reduce the synergy between the two.
41.7  M-Commerce
Electronic commerce has gradually shifted to a modern form in the name of Mobile commerce.
M-Commerce (mobile commerce) refers to the conduct of e-commerce via wireless devices.
These devices can be connected to the Internet, making it possible for users to conduct
transactions from anywhere. The employees need to collaborate and communicate with office
employees and to access corporate data, rapidly and conveniently. Such a capability is provided by
m-commerce. Two main characteristics are driving the interest in m-commerce: mobility and reach
ability. Mobility implies that the Internet access travels with the customers. M-commerce is
appealing because wireless offers customers information from any location. This enables
employees to contact the office from anywhere they happen to be or customer. Reachability means
that people can be contacted at any time, which most people see as a convenience of modern life.
These two characteristics ­ mobility and reachability break the geographical and time barriers. As a
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result, mobile terminals such as PDA or cell phone with Internet access can be used to obtain real-
time information and to communicate from anywhere, at any time.
Security Concerns
With all its benefits, e-commerce is still faced with a lot of concerns from security point of view.
Physical details of the products are not available in case of internet shopping than in case of
walking around. In case they are available, they need to be accurate and supported with images of
the product. That is lack of physical feel of the product should be electronically supported. Once
you enter your personal information and credit card details on a vendor website, you have no
control on where that information is going, or to whom it is being transmitted to or shared with.
Although the links are secured for privacy purposes but information may be leaked out deliberately
by any of the connected parties e.g. supplier. Although there are means of increasing security of
digitally transmitted transaction data (such as using encryption technology and digital certificates),
the threat of hackers getting at your personal information is always a real one ­ perhaps not from
your computer, but may be from vendors or his business partners systems.
41.8  E-Business Opportunities
E-business through the Internet offers significant opportunities to businesses. These opportunities
are similarly available to the competition and hence also represent concomitant risks.
Competition: Through the creation of a website, a business can compete locally in traditional
industries, as well as regionally, nationally and globally.  The Internet permits the entity to
effectively target niche markets or areas of specialty and service broad markets in a cost-effective
manner. The Internet also permits both economies of scale to become a high-volume global
supplier with low costs and economies of scale through product specialization.
Even businesses that decide not to actively participate in e-business will still be affected, because
customers may embrace e-business and seek new sources of supply through the Internet, or
suppliers may demand e-business capabilities and only deal with e-enabled enterprises.
With the exception of certain national and international retailers and suppliers, traditional
marketing has been locally or regionally focused. Until recently, marketing efforts have been
focused on traditional media, such as television and newspapers for consumer products and trade
magazines or trade shows for industrial products. Through the Internet, marketing can be targeted
to selected customers based upon customer registration information, past purchase history or
other criteria.
Through the Internet, e-business can offer new and innovative marketing alternatives, such as:
 streaming video to demonstrate products or services.
 detailed catalogues and user manuals to identify products, sub-components and parts ­ such as
pictures, part numbers and prices ­ to alleviate tedious manual searches for specific items.
 cross-selling of products and services ­ e.g., when a tap is purchased through the Internet, the
provision of detailed installation instructions and a list of other products required (washers,
Teflon tape, valve sealing, and tools, such as pipe wrenches, etc.)
 In many cases, an e-commerce company will survive not only based on its product, but by
having a competent management team, good post-sales services, well-organized business
structure, network infrastructure and a secured, well-designed website. Such factors include.
Cost Reduction: E-business facilitates implementation of new business models, including supply
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chains, service and support arrangements and the creation of cost-effective alliances. It also offers
profit-enhancing changes through cost reduction, such as:
1. virtual warehousing ­ e.g., upon the receipt of a customer order, the vendor orders the goods
from the manufacturer and has them shipped directly to the customer. The vendor can carry
less or no inventory, and thereby reduce warehouse, insurance and financing costs for
inventory while being able to offer a greater selection of products.
2. vertical integration ­ e.g., upon the receipt of an order, by means of website connections, the
vendor automatically arranges shipping, delivery, installation and after sales service through an
expanded geographically based network of alliance partners. All members of the alliance
benefit from membership and all participate in the "one-stop-shopping" convenience of the
alliance partner integration available through the web.
3. electronic delivery of goods and services ­ certain goods, such as greeting cards, music,
textual materials, architectural drawings and computer software may be delivered electronically
to customers globally, which thereby reduces delivery and insurance costs and increases the
timeliness of delivery.
4. automated order processing ­ customers and suppliers can execute electronic transactions
efficiently based upon Internet standards similar to the EDI standards and even access or
update each other's data files to allow inquiries on the status of orders, including links with
shippers and customs brokers, etc.
5. Classic business approaches--- generally do not fit well with the new e-business models as
described in the third section of this paper. These new models are increasingly centred on the
customer or consumer. For example, many customers now expect goods and services to be
delivered 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world. The ability to meet customers, discuss
their needs with them, demonstrate products, and perform other activities that traditional
businesses use to differentiate their services may no longer be available to the same degree.
41.9  E-Business IT Risks
Since e-business invariably involves the use of the Internet through IT, the most important risks
associated with e-business are IT risks. However, it should be recognized that IT risks are
inextricably related to the risks associated with the opportunities mentioned. The following IT risks
can be distinguished: IT infrastructure, IT application, and IT business process risks.
IT infrastructure risks relate to the adequacy of the IT infrastructure for information processing.
For example, hardware may be susceptible to malfunction. IT infrastructure risks are addressed by
a security concept geared to the needs of the entity and by technical and organizational controls
defined on this basis. Typical IT infrastructure risks include:
1. Inappropriate physical security measures that do not prevent theft, unauthorized access or
improper disclosure of information
2. Vulnerability to overheating, water, fire and other physical risks
3. Inadequate or improper emergency plans and procedures
4. Absence of adequate back-up procedures
5. Inconstant monitoring of firewalls to detect attempted break-ins
6. Inadequate PKI (Private Key Infrastructure)
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IT business process risks arise where analyses of security and information processing do not
extend to entire business processes, but merely to parts thereof. Such risks may arise from: lack of
data flow transparency, inadequate integration of systems, or deficient reconciliation and control
procedures in interfaces between subprocesses arising from the exchange of data between two
subsystems within business processes. In this situation, there is a risk that IT controls, such as
access rights or data back-up procedures, will only be effective for the subprocesses, but not for
the aggregated processes.
Typical IT business process risks in an e-business environment include:
Transaction data are not transmitted completely or accurately from the e-business sub-system to
the accounting application
Safeguards only protect a sub-system from unauthorized or unapproved transactions and
thereby allow transaction data to be modified by one of the downstream IT sub-systems
Improper or inadequate access control mechanisms may make it difficult or impossible to
effectively manage access controls for all IT sub-systems integrated into the e-business process
Access protection that responds to a single IT application integrated into the business process
could be bypassed deliberately by manipulating the upstream or downstream IT sub-systems.
Backup measures are only effective for the e-business sub-system and hence for the sub-process,
but not for the entire IT business process.
The design and implementation of interfaces between the e-business sub-system and
downstream IT sub-systems may not be appropriate.
Legal Risks
Management of an enterprise is responsible for ensuring that e-business operations are conducted
in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Entities should be aware of variations in
applicable laws and regulations across national boundaries, despite the best efforts of international
rule-making bodies. Entities operating in global markets are often not up-to-date with respect to
legal issues and governmental oversight in multiple jurisdictions. Without an understanding of
regulations and the law as it is applied in different jurisdictions, enterprises may become subject to
fines and adverse judgements and may incur other costs, such as legal fees, to defend the
enterprise. Some of the relevant legal issues include protection of intellectual property, including
patent, , and trademark laws, enforceability of contracts with Internet service providers,
ownership of software by a software vendor or the right of a software vendor to sell software
licenses.
Commercial legal risks also arise in connection with contract law and the purchase and sale of
goods and services through the Internet across national boundaries. In particular, there may be
problems in determining the appro­priate jurisdiction for legal actions with respect to cross-border
Internet transactions. Furthermore, where the applicable jurisdiction for the transac­tion is unclear,
the requirements for entering into a contract may also be un­clear, for these may vary in certain
respects among jurisdictions. Therefore in some situations, the question may arise as to whether
there is a legally bin­ding contract.
In addition, it should be noted that certain commercial activities that are not regulated in one
jurisdiction may be regulated in another. Management is responsible for ensuring that regulated
activities are performed in compliance with the laws in those jurisdictions in which those activities
are conducted.
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Furthermore, risks in relation to tax law compliance may also arise from e-business activities. In
particular, it is often unclear in which jurisdiction taxes may become payable in connection with to
cross-border transactions (i.e., income or corporate tax and sales tax). A related issue is the
documentation requirements for order processing and invoices in order to comply with tax
legislation.
Management is also responsible for ensuring the privacy of personal information obtained as part
of the enterprise's e-business activities. To help ensure privacy of personal information,
management can establish controls to limit the risk of breaches of web security.
Summary
E-business is a growing need of today, and organizations who want to earn a greater market share
will have to give serious thoughts to becoming online.
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Table of Contents:
  1. Need for information, Sources of Information: Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Sources
  2. Data vs. Information, Information Quality Checklist
  3. Size of the Organization and Information Requirements
  4. Hierarchical organization, Organizational Structure, Culture of the Organization
  5. Elements of Environment: Legal, Economic, Social, Technological, Corporate social responsibility, Ethics
  6. Manual Vs Computerised Information Systems, Emerging Digital Firms
  7. Open-Loop System, Closed Loop System, Open Systems, Closed Systems, Level of Planning
  8. Components of a system, Types of Systems, Attributes of an IS/CBIS
  9. Infrastructure: Transaction Processing System, Management Information System
  10. Support Systems: Office Automation Systems, Decision Support Systems, Types of DSS
  11. Data Mart: Online Analytical Processing (OLAP), Types of Models Used in DSS
  12. Organizational Information Systems, Marketing Information Systems, Key CRM Tasks
  13. Manufacturing Information System, Inventory Sub System, Production Sub System, Quality Sub system
  14. Accounting & Financial Information Systems, Human Resource Information Systems
  15. Decision Making: Types of Problems, Type of Decisions
  16. Phases of decision-making: Intelligence Phase, Design Phase, Choice Phase, Implementation Phase
  17. Planning for System Development: Models Used for and Types of System Development Life-Cycle
  18. Project lifecycle vs. SDLC, Costs of Proposed System, Classic lifecycle Model
  19. Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD), Design of the information flow, data base, User Interface
  20. Incremental Model: Evaluation, Incremental vs. Iterative
  21. Spiral Model: Determine Objectives, Alternatives and Constraints, Prototyping
  22. System Analysis: Systems Analyst, System Design, Designing user interface
  23. System Analysis & Design Methods, Structured Analysis and Design, Flow Chart
  24. Symbols used for flow charts: Good Practices, Data Flow Diagram
  25. Rules for DFDs: Entity Relationship Diagram
  26. Symbols: Object-Orientation, Object Oriented Analysis
  27. Object Oriented Analysis and Design: Object, Classes, Inheritance, Encapsulation, Polymorphism
  28. Critical Success Factors (CSF): CSF vs. Key Performance Indicator, Centralized vs. Distributed Processing
  29. Security of Information System: Security Issues, Objective, Scope, Policy, Program
  30. Threat Identification: Types of Threats, Control Analysis, Impact analysis, Occurrence of threat
  31. Control Adjustment: cost effective Security, Roles & Responsibility, Report Preparation
  32. Physical vs. Logical access, Viruses, Sources of Transmissions, Technical controls
  33. Antivirus software: Scanners, Active monitors, Behavior blockers, Logical intrusion, Best Password practices, Firewall
  34. Types of Controls: Access Controls, Cryptography, Biometrics
  35. Audit trails and logs: Audit trails and types of errors, IS audit, Parameters of IS audit
  36. Risk Management: Phases, focal Point, System Characterization, Vulnerability Assessment
  37. Control Analysis: Likelihood Determination, Impact Analysis, Risk Determination, Results Documentation
  38. Risk Management: Business Continuity Planning, Components, Phases of BCP, Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
  39. Web Security: Passive attacks, Active Attacks, Methods to avoid internet attacks
  40. Internet Security Controls, Firewall Security SystemsIntrusion Detection Systems, Components of IDS, Digital Certificates
  41. Commerce vs. E-Business, Business to Consumer (B2C), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), E-Government
  42. Supply Chain Management: Integrating systems, Methods, Using SCM Software
  43. Using ERP Software, Evolution of ERP, Business Objectives and IT
  44. ERP & E-commerce, ERP & CRM, ERP Ownership and sponsor ship
  45. Ethics in IS: Threats to Privacy, Electronic Surveillance, Data Profiling, TRIPS, Workplace Monitoring