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?