Surfing the third wave of computing : consumer contracting with eObjects in Australia [thesis]

Kayleen Manwaring
A third wave of computing is emerging, based on widespread use of processors with data handling and communications capabilities embedded in a variety of objects and environments not previously computerised, such as refrigerators, buildings, cars, fitness trackers and hairbrushes. With the ensuing sociotechnical change the possibility arises of a regulatory disconnection between current consumer protection law and new things, activities and relationships brought about by the third wave. This
more » ... d wave has had many names, including ubiquitous and pervasive computing, ambient intelligence and the Internet of Things. However, significant definitional inconsistencies and incoherencies exist, necessitating the development in this dissertation of a technical research framework. This framework involves abstracting and analysing the attributes of, and interactions among, the technologies, and defining a unifying concept for the central technological element, the eObject . The dissertation proceeds to outline the categories of legal problems that can arise in the context of sociotechnical change, emphasising that not every instance of sociotechnical change operates outside the scope of existing legal rules. Therefore, new things, activities and relationships enabled by new technologies should first be judged against existing rules and their goals. The attributes and interactions of eObjects are then interrogated to identify where sociotechnical change associated with eObjects might lead to challenges for consumers. The challenges identified are ones whose outcomes are in conflict with the goals of Australian consumer protection law, potentially giving rise to legal problems. One of those identified challenges is examined in depth. Widespread digitisation of commerce has arguably given firms an enhanced ability not only to compile detailed customer profiles, but also to exploit consumers individual biases and vulnerabilities. This dissertation argues that 0pportunities for such digital consumer manipulation will be substan [...]
doi:10.26190/unsworks/3892 fatcat:eyijt7th3re2dg5k3247bxp6g4