Celebrating 20 Years of WWW – a Reflection on the Concept of Jurisdiction

Dan Jerker B. Svantesson


The concept of jurisdiction has a relatively long history. However, being a core concept affecting every single Internet user, its most appropriate application in the Internet era has been the subject of much debate.
   In the 90’s there were significant calls for states to make no jurisdictional claims in relation to Internet-related activities. A competing view was that too many forms of Internet conduct would fall outside the jurisdictional scope of all states, leaving a regulatory vacuum.
   As the Internet, and the discussion of Internet regulation, has matured, it now – 20 years after the birth of the World Wide Web – seems clear that rather than there being no regulation, or under-regulation, the Internet is overregulated in that conduct on the global Internet may come under the jurisdiction of virtually all states in the world. At the same time, there is a recent trend of courts showing reluctance to claim jurisdiction as broadly as they arguably can do under applicable law.
   This paper discusses, and analyses, a selection of approaches to the concept of jurisdiction. In doing so, account is taken of both public international law and private international law.

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