Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 267–276

Emerging roles for third parties in cyberspace

  • Paul B. de Laat

DOI: 10.1023/A:1013871421924

Cite this article as:
de Laat, P.B. Ethics and Information Technology (2001) 3: 267. doi:10.1023/A:1013871421924


In `real' space, third partieshave always been useful to facilitatetransactions. With cyberspace opening up, it isto be expected that intermediation will alsodevelop in a virtual fashion. The articlefocuses upon new cyberroles for third partiesthat seem to announce themselves clearly.First, virtualization of the market place haspaved the way for `cybermediaries', who brokerbetween supply and demand of material andinformational goods. Secondly,cybercommunication has created newuncertainties concerning informational securityand privacy. Also, as in real space,transacting supposes some decency with one'spartners. These needs are being addressed byTrusted Third Parties, anonymizers, escrowarrangements, facilitators and externalauditing. Virtual reputation trackingmechanisms are being developed as well.Finally, in order to resolve disputes,mediators and arbitrators have started offeringtheir services online. In the closing sectionthese emerging cyberroles are assessedcritically. It is argued in particular, thatboth cybermediaries and cyberjustice poseserious threats to privacy. Moreover, onlinedispute resolution, as it is practised now,neglects its duties of public accounting.


Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul B. de Laat
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands