There is unanimous agreement regarding the importance of stakeholder engagement to each approach and the need for a coordinated and collaborative effort. Furthermore, the selection of a specific regulatory approach or approaches is influenced by public policy debates and the policy setting within a given context. This importantly calls for a review of the environmental considerations unique to that context as these considerations will greatly influence regulatory debates and decisions. As such, establishing the need for LBS regulation demands that a context-based investigation be conducted, one that focuses on the major considerations in LBS regulatory discussion.
6. Findings: major considerations in LBS regulatory discussions
This paper has demonstrated that investigating the need for LBS regulation requires an inclusive approach, in which the ethical dilemmas pertaining to LBS must be identified and the multiple approaches to regulation be explored. The thematic review of literature has furthermore revealed that regulatory discussions should in fact focus on three broad considerations:
Technical considerations primarily include understanding the stakeholders involved in the development and delivery of LBS applications. Social considerations address the ethical dilemmas and social implications associated with the use of emerging technologies in general, and LBS in particular, thus justifying the need for a review of regulatory challenges and mechanisms. Environmental considerations encompass the various regulatory approaches and the context-specific factors, such as cultural, political and economic conditions, which inevitably impact on regulatory choices.
In reflecting on the background to LBS, this paper defined the centrality of the value chain or network in delivering an appropriate solution in order to satisfy user needs. The value chain model demonstrates the importance of cooperation and interaction between stakeholders and suggests the complexities characterising the information flows that define such interaction. It also alludes to the potentially conflicting interests between operational and non-operational stakeholders, each of whom possess a distinctive role in the chain and therefore may not share consistent views regarding the need for regulation and the extent to which the identified ethical dilemmas apply. From the analysis of these technology-related considerations, it is apparent that the nature of stakeholder interactions, including the views of individual stakeholders regarding LBS regulation, is under-researched.
This is similarly the case with respect to stakeholder perspectives on the social considerations pertaining to LBS. Specifically, a practical and explicit examination and presentation of the dilemmas identified throughout this paper has not been attempted and therefore a gap exists concerning individual stakeholder viewpoints. With respect to environmental, including regulatory, considerations, it is clear that the regulatory challenges pertaining to LBS have not been clearly defined and resolved. That is, limited research is available regarding the most appropriate regulatory option for LBS. Importantly, the extent to which current legal, industry-based and technological solutions are applicable to LBS, particularly from the perspective of stakeholders, have not been adequately examined in previous studies.
In summary, it is recommended that future research into LBS regulation consider the technical, social and environmental considerations affecting the LBS industry in a simultaneous fashion and from the perspective of the varied stakeholders in the value chain. Doing so will enable an understanding of the complexities, multiple interests and contextual factors that must be factored into any study addressing the need for LBS regulation, ensuring sensitivity to the applicable ethical dilemmas. Significantly, this would entail a context-specific examination, given the variance between given social settings and jurisdictions.
This paper has offered a qualitative examination of LBS regulation scholarship through a thematic review of the LBS value chain, the ethical dilemmas of LBS and the associated regulatory implications. The LBS value chain presented throughout this paper highlighted the potentially varying interests and viewpoints that must be accounted for in the delivery of an LBS solution. Appreciation of divergent stakeholder interests entails a certain degree of sensitivity when examining the ethical dilemmas associated with LBS. As this paper has indicated, this also involves the recognition that a range of regulatory approaches may be necessary when regulating LBS, in order to incorporate differing stakeholder perspectives. Additionally, this paper has emphasised the value of stakeholder involvement in the LBS regulatory process and the importance of simultaneously assessing technical, social and environmental considerations in future regulatory discussions and related research.
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Keywords: Ethics, Location-based services, Literature review, Legal aspects of IT, Regulation/deregulation, LBS
Publisher: Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgments: The authors wish to acknowledge the funding support of the Australian Research Council (ARC) – Discovery Grant DP0881191 titled “Toward the Regulation of the Location-Based Services Industry: Influencing Australian Government Telecommunications Policy”. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the ARC.
Citation: Roba Abbas, Katina Michael, MG Michael, (2014) "The regulatory considerations and ethical dilemmas of location-based services (LBS): A literature review", Information Technology & People, Vol. 27 Issue: 1, pp.2-20, https://doi-org.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/10.1108/ITP-12-2012-0156