Business Law

Over the past few years, the business world has seen the inexorable march from "bricks to clicks," as digital commerce has become an ever more significant aspect of the overall business environment. According to one source, retail e-commerce sales (including digital services) in the United States grew from approximately $350 billion dollars annually in 2015 to an estimated $800 billion dollars in 2020 (Statista, 2020). This growth has been driven by, and led to, new business models, such as omni-channel marketing and what has become known as the gig economy.

This shift in how business is done has led to a myriad of ethical issues, many of which existed in the pre-digital world, but now are being raised and must be addressed in new contexts and with new considerations in mind. For example, what does privacy mean in the digital business world? What privacy should consumers and employees expect / to what privacy are they entitled? How can that privacy be enforced, when often we do not even know what information about us is being collected? Who is an "employee" in the digital world? To what rights, duties and privileges - if any - should those who work for a business but are not considered employees (i.e., independent contractors) be entitled? How should a business balance its obligations to its home country with its obligations to other countries in which it does business when the business is done over the Internet? What steps should we take as a society to ensure that the benefits of the move to a digital world are shared by all - in other words, what steps must we take to ensure that the shift to a digital economy and society serves to alleviate, rather than exacerbate, issues of discrimination and income inequality that currently exist in our society?

Business, Law, and Policy at IU

Indiana University is home to the Kelley School of Business and two of Indiana's four law schools. The Kelley School teaches approximately 8,000 students in its four-year residential undergraduate program and more than 1,000 MBA and other master's degree students both in residence and online. Professors at the school teach a wide range of subjects, with undergraduate students choosing among 12 majors and 6 co-majors which span the spectrum from finance, marketing, operations management, and information systems, to law, ethics & decision-making (LEAD), digital technology management, business analytics, and digital & social media business applications.

Kelley's Department of Business Law & Ethics teaches law, ethics, and critical thinking to Kelley's students. With 26 full-time faculty members - 16 of whom teach one or more ethics course(s) - the department teaches business ethics to more undergraduate students than any other residential undergraduate program in the United States. Each of Kelley's approximately 8,000 undergraduate students must take an ethics course in order to graduate.

Keywords: finance, business, law, and justice, markets and efforts to manipulate them, online commerce, virtual employment and employees, new business models, enacting and enforcing regulations in a digital environment, copyright and intellectual property protection, access to justice, digital divides, national boundaries, open records and government, privacy, and protection of minors

Convener(s): Joel Rubin