The Developing Law on Internet Jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is fundamental to any legal system. It is the alchemy that transforms the opinion of a judge into an expression of the law.
Generally a superior court has jurisdiction only within some specific geographic area – a province, a state, a country, and so on. However, the revolution in worldwide communications through the Internet challenges our geographically based conception of jurisdiction. Unlike previous technologies, the World Wide Web makes information instantly accessible throughout much of the world, regardless of its point of origin. Information remains continuously available until removed and is inexpensive to access. Geography is thus no longer a meaningful barrier to communications. With Vancouver, Vienna and Varanasi all sitting cheek by jowl in the Internet world, there is obviously the potential for great inconvenience and prejudice to either then plaintiff or the defendant in Internet litigation, depending on how the jurisdictional question is determined.
This article was co-authored by David Tsai, who was articling with Harper Grey at the time it was published.
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