A GEMs system would have multiple responsibilities to its users. Crucially, it must prove that it does not abuse its position by compiling information about any company or individual’s activities, apart from an optional generalized trading record. Unlike the Balkanized world of uncoordinated electronic commerce channels, users can be sure there is no data capture at any stage in the buying process. Instead, GEMs offers a user questionnaire which asks for ever-changing individual preferences in all sorts of markets. The couple seeking a weekend away, for instance, might have both clicked that they prefer a vegetarian cooked breakfast option in the overnight accommodation section of their questionnaire and GEMs would make that a search priority in ranking their options for any particular location. Persuading users to be completely at ease with GEMs, however, would take more than peerlessly detailed software. Non-binary aspects of system stewardship must be equally reassuring. To this end GEMs should operate by the principles of Guaranteed Electronic Markets (listed in Appendix one). These mandate neutral markets, distance from government or any particular seller and the right of a user to leave the system and have all their details expunged at any time. This would be enforced by transparency of operation (Box 3.1). The likelihood of being found out notwithstanding, a GEMs consortium would have no incentive to invade users’ privacy. Restricted by statute to running passive electronic markets, the system has no application for individual information. The greatest business risk faced by operators would be analogous to a run on a bank: users lose faith in the system and exit en masse.
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