Agents, Deep-Linking, and Framing : On acceptable practices of information acquisition in E-Commerce

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-93
Journal / PublicationElectronic Markets
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000


A conflict has emerged between Internet information creators and information brokers. Information frequently offer their information free of charge to users, recovering the cost to create it through other means, typically advertising. This practice may be undermined by information brokers who harvest information from information creators, and then place it - sometimes out of context - on their own sites, or even more boldly, place it in a different (advertising) context. A combination of three technologies enables this practice. First, intelligent mobile agents search for the information and return their findings (i.e. in form of URLs) to their owner, the information broker. Then, through deep links, the information broker links directly to the relevant information, instead of linking to the information creator's home page. Finally, framing technology lets users view the selected information embedded in a frame provided by the information broker, thus creating the impression that the user never left the information broker's website. This practice can be a blessing to the consumers, since information brokers aggregate information such as price comparisons or auction availability. However it may create a business problem for the information creator. In this article we discuss this issue from technical, legal, and economic perspectives and suggest ways in which it might be solved. We predict that several measures will become popular to restrict inappropriate information harvesting, including tighter linkage of information and advertising, stricter user agreements, as well as new charging model that enable levying of small charges for information content.