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Title: Consumer software agents in the online buying process : risks, issues and the EU legal response
Author: Markou, Christiana
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis looks at agent technology from a 'consumer protection' angle to examine whether EU law contains adequate safeguards against the risks associated with its use. It concentrates on four agent types that assist the consumer in finding products, making purchase decisions and concluding contracts online: notification. recommendation. shopping and negotiation agents. First. the various consumer risks associated with the use of each agent are set out: the privacy of the consumer is at risk, as is his freedom of choice regarding product purchases; his online activity may be restricted or interfered with; he may be discriminated against, being asked to pay a higher price or offered 'lower quality’ products than others: his pain and suffering may be exploited for profit and he may be persuaded 10 buy harmful products: he risks making bad purchases or being defrauded: he may also enter into erroneous contracts, thus being asked to pay an unreasonably high 'product' price and/or having to pay for products he never intended to buy, The various sources of these risks - i,e., certain unacceptable practices often employed by agent providers - are also identified. Deriving assistance from the results of this 'source identification' exercise. the thesis then formulates possible legal solutions. In the light of these solutions. it then examines whether appropriate legal safeguards against the arising risks exist al Community level. It concludes that the relevant EU legal response is not fully satisfactory: the 'raw' material of the appropriate legal solutions exists within EU Directives mainly in the privacy and 'consumer protection' field s, but often those solutions are inapplicable to agents or, at best. are only semi-adequate. Finally, it suggests legislative amendments for improving adequacy and ensuring applicability.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available