Prof. Nancy King has an overarching message for her business law students:
“In any discipline and in any profession, you’ll be a more effective manager and business expert if you know the law,” says King, who holds a juris doctor from Gonzaga and arrived at the College of Business in 2000 after having practiced for 13 years.
One aspect of the COB that the global-minded King particularly enjoys is the international makeup of the graduate student population.
“It leads to discussions that take the study of law outside of U.S. business law,” she said. “We have common problems that we try to address in the legal systems in multiple countries and in some cases international organizations such as the World Trade Organization.”
One of King’s graduate courses is Business Law: New Ventures and Technologies.
“It’s exciting, plus the course furthers one of the college’s key missions, which is entrepreneurship, in the context of coming up with a business idea of your own while working for someone else,” she said.
The other one is Business Law for Managers, which she teaches through the online hybrid executive leadership track aimed at professionals in the Portland area.
“They are so fun to teach,” she said. “We go over these legal concepts, and they’re ready to apply them immediately.”
King’s primary research interest is consumer privacy as it pertains to data sharing.
“There’s got to be a balance between business and the consumer,” she said. “The whole world of big data is not very consumer facing. Most data brokers are global in size and they share data from a lot of sources, and they merge those data to derive new data from the data they have to fill in that picture of you. There may be inaccuracies in that picture, but the consumer has no right to review it.”
King, on sabbatical this year, is recently back in the States after spending 21/2 months in Australia as a visiting scholar at Bond University. In Australia, King said, “privacy law is quite advanced as far as legislation. In the U.S., it’s a self-regulatory lack of regulation.”
“Big data has tremendous potential to help develop new ways of doing business that are efficient and can produce low-cost products, but the consumer is left out of this process,” she said. “It’s easy for someone to become a victim based on race or economic class or sex or disability.”
King is also looking at information privacy as it pertains to advertising, specifically the right to opt out of “behavioral advertising,” those targeted online ads that pop up based on data collected on individuals.
In Europe, consumers can legally refuse those ads – not so in America, despite the anti-spam protections that are already in place.
“Is there really any difference between the advertising communication you get in spam and advertising solicitation in the context of visiting websites?” King said. “It’s illegal to send email if you’ve opted out but it’s not illegal to interrupt your Facebook experience with tailored ads. We should treat those kinds of advertising communications the same way.”