Enforced Standards versus Evolution by General Acceptance: A Comparative Study of E-Commerce Privacy Disclosure and Practice in the U.S. and the U.K.

48 Pages Posted: 28 Jul 2003 Last revised: 11 Jun 2013

See all articles by Shyam Sunder

Shyam Sunder

Yale University - School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Michael S. Maier

University of Alberta - Alberta School of Business

Karim Jamal

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 1, 2003

Abstract

Conventions as well as standards influence the practice of financial reporting. Reporting standards arise as legislated rules, enforced by the power of law. Conventions evolve over time through trial and practice, and are upheld by socioeconomic rewards and sanctions. Financial reporting in the second half of the twentieth century has been characterized by a preference for legislated standards, and a lack of faith in its evolution as a body of social conventions. Evidence on whether this faith in standards over conventions is justified remains to be marshaled. We present data on privacy practices in e-commerce under the European Union's (EU's) formal regulatory regime prevailing in the United Kingdom (U.K.), and compare it to the data from a previous study of United States (U.S.) practices that evolved in the absence of government laws or enforcement. The codification by the EU law, and the enforcement by the U.K. government, improves neither the disclosure nor the practice of e-commerce privacy relative to the U.S. Regulation in the U.K. also appears to stifle development of a market for web assurance services. Both U.S. and U.K. consumers continue to be vulnerable to a small number of e-commerce websites who spam their customers, ignoring the latter's expressed or implied preferences. These results are germane to the rules versus principles debate in accounting, and raise important questions about finding a balance between enforced standards and conventions in the domain of financial reporting.

Keywords: e-commerce, privacy, regulatory competition, financial reporting standards

JEL Classification: G38, K22, L51, L86, M41

Suggested Citation

Sunder, Shyam and Maier, Michael and Jamal, Karim, Enforced Standards versus Evolution by General Acceptance: A Comparative Study of E-Commerce Privacy Disclosure and Practice in the U.S. and the U.K. (December 1, 2003). Journal of Accounting Research Vol. 43, Issue. 1, 2005; University of Alberta School of Business Research Paper No. 2013-691; AEI-Brookings Working Paper No. 03-8. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=428241 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.428241

Shyam Sunder

Yale University - School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-6160 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.som.yale.edu/faculty/sunder/

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Michael Maier

University of Alberta - Alberta School of Business ( email )

2-30C Business Building
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada
7802481275 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://business.ualberta.ca/about/contact-us/school-directory/michael-maier

Karim Jamal (Contact Author)

University of Alberta - Department of Accounting, Operations & Information Systems ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada
780-492-5829 (Phone)
780-492-3325 (Fax)

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