Comparison of “the privacy policy”

between an American and a Chinese e-commerce website (Amazon/Alibaba)



By Zhifei Yin

SKEMA Business School

Lille, France




Nowadays, we can notice that the e-commerce website is becoming more and more important for people’s life. Whether they want to command products or services, e-commerce websites can give consumers a consumption pattern convenient and different to traditional consumption patterns. Since the online consumption is inseparable from users’ personal information like address, bank account, and preference, the privacy terms should be taken seriously by users.

By selecting Alibaba and Amazon electricity supplier websites, this document compared their privacy policy such as the types of gathering information, uses of cookies, security measures as well as the regulations of minor users, etc. The aims of this document are to find out their differences and similarities, analyze their characteristics, and put forward the suggestion on the construction of privacy policy. This document will help the user to understand the content of the privacy policy of e-commerce websites and try to give them some propositions to protect their personal information.

Keywords: privacy policy, e-commerce websites, clause and flaws, security, disclosure


The e-commerce is a dynamic and still booming industry which has Business to Business(B2B), Business to Customer(B2C), Customer to Customer(C2C), Online to Offline(O2O) and some many different types of transaction model. In the 21st century, with technological advancement and the popularization of the Internet, people’s consumption patterns have changed dramatically. E-commerce has already become an indispensable part for human being’s consumption. The e-commerce sector represented $2304 billion in 2017 and it is expected that this number will increase by more than 100% by 2021. [1]People use e-commerce more and more frequently, but the problem that comes with it is privacy leaks. Since personal information will be recorded during this transaction process where there is quite many private information, the security of personal information is a big issue for the e-commerce platform. According to a survey, there are 92% respondents told that although E-commerce site liable to keep personal data private practically, they disclose personal things. [2]According to another survey, the operator collected personal information without consent, accounting for 62.2% of the total sample survey; the vulnerability of the network service system caused personal information to leak, accounting for 57.4% of the total sample survey.[3] In December 2016, JD.COM, one of the Chinese electric business giants, was leaked revealing 12G of personal information of users, including username, password, email address, telephone number, ID card and other dimensions of information, with tens of millions of data. And from 2015 to 2017, the unauthorized use of a credit card of many Jingdong Baitiao users caused great dissatisfaction among consumers. As a result, E-commerce platforms are trying to maintain user privacy to enhance the user experience. Among them, the privacy policy is an essential agreement.

The privacy policy of e-commerce website refers to the promise made by the e-commerce enterprise when the user accesses the official website of the e-commerce enterprise, and the e-commerce enterprise protects the personal information of the users. The construction of privacy policy of the e-commerce website can reflect a certain extent the degree to which an enterprise attaches importance to protecting the user’s personal information, and is a sign of the credibility of the enterprise. In the European Union, there are strict legislation to protect personal information; in the United States and in China, there is no specific legislation to protect personal information on the Internet, and these two countries adopt self-regulation of industry to protect online personal information, so when conflicts about privacy occur, the privacy policy of the e-commerce is an important reference. A project is defined to be “an investment that requires a set of logically linked and coordinated activities performed over a finite period of time in order to accomplish a unique result in support of a desired outcome[4] In e-commerce, every user’s single activity is a single project: visiting the website, creating an account, ordering products, returning or replacing the articles, etc. All the projects formed the whole program of e-commerce. The result that e-commerce suppliers want to obtain is that the commercial actions are active and an increasing number of users. All these results have a common pre-condition which is that users read and agree with the privacy policy of the e-commerce websites. The privacy policy, in another word, it is a contract between e-commerce websites and their users. There is the definition of the contract in the project: “A Contract is an agreement between two or more competent parties in which an offer is made and accepted and each party benefits. The agreement can be formal, informal, written, oral or just plain understood. (By the actions of the parties).” [5]

Since we believe that every user has specific needs and expectations, e-commerce website needs to answer this demand by managing their tangible assets – their commodity, which can be products and services, as well as their intangible assets such as reputation and quality. In order to meet users’ expectations, e-commerce website must manage their project portfolios by providing quality and variable articles and the satisfying policies. In terms of the policies, one of the most important is privacy policy which should be agreed by users before users create their accounts to order on e-commerce websites. At this point, the privacy policy is a kind of written contract between the e-commerce websites and the users: users should agree to the privacy policy in order to start to use the e-commerce website. If both parties honor their part of this contract, then the whole project will successfully start to run.


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Editor’s note: Student papers are authored by graduate or undergraduate students based on coursework at accredited universities or training programs.  This paper was prepared as a deliverable for the course “International Contract Management” facilitated by Dr Paul D. Giammalvo of PT Mitratata Citragraha, Jakarta, Indonesia as an Adjunct Professor under contract to SKEMA Business School for the program Master of Science in Project and Programme Management and Business Development.  http://www.skema.edu/programmes/masters-of-science. For more information on this global program (Lille and Paris in France; Belo Horizonte in Brazil), contact Dr Paul Gardiner, Global Programme Director paul.gardiner@skema.edu.

How to cite this paper: Yin, Z. (2019). Comparison of “the privacy policy” between an American and a Chinese e-commerce website (Amazon/Alibaba), PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue III (April).  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/pmwj80-Apr2019-Yin-comparison-of-privacy-policy-between-american-and-chinese-ecommerce.pdf



About the Author

Zhifei Yin

China & Lille, France



 Zhifei Yin is a Chinese student currently enrolled in the “MSc Project and Program Management and Business Development” at SKEMA Business School and graduated from Central South University of Forestry and Technology (CSUFT) with a “BA in French”.

This master’s degree will allow her to gather the two directions that she wants to give to her career: project management and the international business development. Thanks to her studies at CSUFT, she had the opportunity to go in France as an exchange student in Reims, France, for a one-year university exchange in University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne.

She is now certain that she will work in an international environment and become business development manager or project manager. Being very curious, she wants to challenge herself in any business sector as a business developer.

Zhifei Yin can be contacted at zhifei.yin@skema.edu and lydiayinzhifei@hotmail.com


[1] Anne McCafferty, (2011). Internet Contracting and E-Commerce Disputes: International and U. S. Personal Jurisdiction. Retrieved from https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.fr/&httpsredir=1&article=1012&context=gblr

[2] Muneer et al., J Account Mark, (2018). Data Privacy Issues and Possible Solutions in E-commerce. Retrieved from  https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/data-privacy-issues-and-possible-solutions-in-ecommerce-2168-9601-1000294.pdf

[3] China Consumers Association, (2018). Application personal information disclosure report. Retrieved from http://www.cca.org.cn/jmxf/detail/28180.html

[4] Adapted from a Linked In discussion initiated by William R. Duncan  1/13/2018- https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6357416976318558208/ 

[5] Lowery, A., D Giammalvo, Paul., Kriel, Jacobus., LeServe, M., Regan, S., & Williams, J., (2015). Managing contracts. Retrieved from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/managing-contracts-managing-the-contract