Professor Amy J. Schmitz recently presented her draft article, “There’s an ‘App’ for That: Developing Online Dispute (ODR) Resolution that Bridges the Digital Divide,” at the University of Kansas School of Law.
In this paper, Professor Schmitz explains how developing nations have lagged in their establishment and use of ODR due in large part to the digital divide and lack of necessary infrastructure. However, Internet access and e-commerce are growing in these nations through use of mobile applications (“apps”) and technologies. Use of smart phones and tablets is narrowing the digital divide.
The article encourages growth of global ODR that is accessible through mobile apps as means for increasing access to remedies and economic growth for companies and consumers in developing nations.
“There’s an ‘App’ for That: Developing ODR to Diminish the Digital Divide”
Amy J. Schmitz
Traditionally, litigation has been the norm for resolving disputes. It takes place in a public forum and face–to–face (“F2F”). In a global economy, however, such public and F2F dispute resolution is not feasible. This is especially true with cross-border purchases through e-commerce. E-commerce requires more efficient and less litigious remedy systems that allow consumers to obtain remedies on their purchases without the cost and travel associated with traditional F2F procedures. This has led to development of online dispute resolution (“ODR”) processes, especially with respect to business-to-consumers (“B2C”) contracts. Accordingly, scholarship and policy papers have advanced ODR for the benefit of consumers. What deserves emphasis, however, is promotion of ODR to empower businesses in developing nations that seek to attract customers globally. Establishment of trusted ODR systems incentivizes consumers to make cross-border purchases because it provides consumers with the comfort of knowing there is a cheap and easy means for obtaining a remedy if the purchase goes awry.
Nonetheless, developing nations have lagged in their establishment and use of ODR due in large part to the digital divide and lack of necessary infrastructure. Many nations lack robust internet and communications technology (“ICT”) and fluid product delivery systems. That does not mean, however, that ODR cannot thrive in these nations. Although broadband home internet access is not the norm in these nations, a growing number of consumers enjoy access to the internet through use of mobile applications (“Apps”) and technologies. Indeed, use of smart phones and tablets is narrowing the digital divide. This article, therefore, encourages growth of global ODR that is accessible through mobile apps as means for increasing access to remedies and economic growth for companies and consumers in developing nations.