OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Professor Awarded Fulbright To Research Cell Phone Privacy Issues

04/11/2007

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nancy King, an associate professor of business law in the College of Business at Oregon State University, will spend several months next year doing research on privacy law in Belgium with a research grant from the Fulbright Scholar Program.

King will be doing research on privacy issues related to the increasing use of cell phones as a portal for electronic commerce (mobile-commerce) under the European Union Affairs Research Program in Belgium.

Her host institution is the University of Notre-Dame de la Paix in Namur, Belgium, where she will work with the Center of Recherches Informatique Et Droit (CRID). King will join the law faculty from the host university to conduct collaborative research with European Union scholars on personal privacy and related data protection concerns that are arising in electronic commerce.

This joint research will assist the European Union and the United States in developing regulatory solutions that will encourage the growth of global electronic commerce while providing personal privacy protections. She will be in Belgium from March through May 2008.

“Mobile commerce is an exciting new business context that offers great market potential for global businesses,” King said.

“However, doing business via mobile phones also raises a multitude of privacy questions for consumers. Will the experience bring unsolicited advertisements (mobile-spam) that will interrupt consumers’ private time? What personal information will be collected about those using their mobile phones to do business and how will the personal information be used?”

For example, King said location-tracking technologies make it possible to track the geographic locations of mobile phone users, which can be used by direct marketers to deliver timely ads to consumers. But this use of location data may be viewed as a privacy intrusion by consumers.

From the perspective of businesses as well as consumers involved in mobile commerce, it will be important to ensure that the mobile commerce environment enhances the consumers’ experience, promotes consumer trust and supports the growth of mobile commerce.

“This research project will explore the tension between personal privacy protections and the continued development of mobile commerce,” King said. “I can’t imagine a better place for me to research these cutting edge legal issues while building a common understanding between the European Union and the United States.”

The Fulbright Scholar Program sends about 800 U.S. faculty and professionals abroad each year to lecture and conduct research in a wide variety of professional fields. The prestigious program has been supported for more than 50 years by the United States Department of State.

Prior to joining the faculty at Oregon State University’s College of Business, King was a partner at the management employment law firm of Bullard, Smith, Jernstedt & Wilson in Portland, Ore., and served as a visiting professor at Willamette University’s College of Law. She also served as an in-house attorney for a Fortune 200 company.

At OSU’s College of Business, King teaches graduate courses in E-Commerce and Technology Law and undergraduate business law courses.