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Where are the Internet Borders Drawn?

By skim123 in News
Mon Jul 17, 2000 at 06:57:20 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

The American Bar Association has recently gathered to discuss cyber borders for the Internet. The article draws on an example of a French citizen buying a Turkish rug from an American eCommerce shop using a Swiss credit card. If there is fradulent issues, such as the credit card is invalid, the rug is never delivered, or the rug is really just a Welcome Mat, where should such issues be settled? In courts in the US? In Turkey? In France? In Switzerland? The article brings up an interesting point... when legal disputes occur on the Net, where should they be settled? (More writeup in Extended Copy...)


Personally I hate to think of people having to carve out the Internet into geographical regions. Currently (according to the article), legal disputes are handled where the Web surfer geographically resides. I wonder if in the next fifty years we'll see some global legal body. That would suck too, though, I'd hate to have some global commission come and tell me I broke international law.

In any case, what do you think should be done? Is the current way working or is a change needed?

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Where are the Internet Borders Drawn? | 22 comments (20 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Some type of arbitration? (none / 0) (#3)
by Wah on Mon Jul 17, 2000 at 09:37:16 PM EST

in the general theme of trying to avoid a world court. Why couldn't there be some type of arbitration committee with a representative of each country there to help settle the dispute. Countries could have special arbitrators for such a purpose. I dunno, it's gonna be a tough problem.

--
Fail to Obey?
Clash of interests (none / 0) (#4)
by Stargazer on Mon Jul 17, 2000 at 10:05:33 PM EST

Unfortunately, this strikes too many people as being a problem of little to no importance. Nothing could be further.

There is a definite, entangled clash of interests here. On the one hand, law, still not quite up to date on the latest trends, wants a way to do its job. On the other hand, the Internet doesn't want to be needlessly burdened by law.

This question needs to be approached with very serious caution. The wrong answer could result in the crippling or death of at least one party.

-- Stargazer



Another decision being made for us... (2.00 / 2) (#5)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 17, 2000 at 11:38:34 PM EST

This is another set of decisions, currently only being discussed, that is going to be made without the input of developers as professional peers.

This situation will not improve unless developers get organized.

Peter Hoffman
Open Sourcerers



Why should developers have a say? (none / 0) (#6)
by skim123 on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 12:50:25 AM EST

Isn't this more an issue that faces all who use the Internet, not necessarily the programmers and developers of the Net? (Granted, if those folks use the Net, which they do, they're affected, but they're not some special group...)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Why should developers have a say? (none / 0) (#13)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 08:32:25 AM EST

The lawyers of the ABA don't have the technical know how (not their fault, it's not their field) to anticipate if there are technical implications of their decisions (Will the routing work? Will some anonymizing service render the border moot?).

I am not saying that this particular issue is a highly critical one as far as we are concerned. What I am saying is that it could be something that affects us and we have no way to participate as peers.

In any of these decisions it never crosses the minds of the others involved to think "Perhaps we should get the developers themselves in on this." because there is no obvious organization representing developers as a whole.

They might invite some individuals from our field to come and comment but individuals cannot carry the same weight as a professional society which would sit as a peer. We needed such a society when the UCITA and DMCA were being drafted. That need will come up again.

Peter Hoffman
Open Sourcerers

[ Parent ]

Caveat Emptor (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by PresJPolk on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 03:38:24 AM EST

That's the only "solution." Don't transact with someone, when you have no means of getting settlement in case of a dispute.

Exporting (none / 0) (#8)
by Enthrad on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 04:26:58 AM EST

Something I have briefly wondered about is regarding the U.S. crypto export restrictions.

How does it work in this situation?

A person in Australia and a server in Germany. The packets from the server most likely travel through the U.S. to reach the Australian. Is that importing and then exporting or is there a more strict definition (ie must be a server in the US) ?

Re: Exporting (none / 0) (#9)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 05:02:06 AM EST

It's not illegal to export "encrypted data", just "encryption software". Also exporting is an act done by a person, not a computer. If cause the action to occur which violates a law then you are guilty.

[ Parent ]
Re: Exporting (none / 0) (#11)
by Enthrad on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 06:54:28 AM EST

Sorry, I did mean restricted encryption software not data.

I am just curious because the software leaves Europe, travels through the U.S.A. and then crosses the Pacific to Australia. Both involved parties reside in free countries (when it comes to encryption), yet the "goods" pass through a country with a regime that restricts the flow of this sort of software.

I can understand that nothing is illegal here because the U.S. backbones aren't responsible for the content that passes through them. Perhaps it is just another example of the stupidity of the U.S.A.'s laws.

[ Parent ]
It's rather simple really IMHO. (none / 0) (#10)
by kinkie on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 05:33:41 AM EST

There are a few transactions taking place here.
Even if the overall result is that something leaves turkey and reaches France, it does so in steps, whose each only concerns two entities.

So if the good is not what it is advertised for, the customer will have to complain to the seller (in this case, the e-commerce site, under US legislation), which can in turn complain to the originator (the Turkish manifacturer, under Turkish laws unless otherwise stated in contract).
If the credit card transaction is broken, it's again the commerce site that can complain to the Swiss bank (under Swiss law), which can in turn go after the customer (in France, under French law).

About global legal bodies: we have them, even if we don't know about them. They are named "trade agreements", supervised by the WTO. Some consider them Evil(TM), others consider them Good(tm). My Very Humble Opinion is that they are a mixed blessing. They help keeping world trade under rein, but in the mean time they are can be one more instrument of the Rich(tm) against the Poor(tm), and that they are basically above anybody's control (see the matter with GM food, and Hormone-filled US Meat).

Disclaimer: IANAL, and I live in a somewhat Rich(tm) country.
/kinkie
What's the thing, with the capital letters? (none / 0) (#12)
by current on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 07:04:09 AM EST

Evil(TM) versus Good(tm), who are you working for ;)

--
The Eternal Meta-Discussion


[ Parent ]
World Government is coming... (1.50 / 2) (#14)
by Alhazred on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 08:58:08 AM EST

We all know it, its been inevitable since that day in Alamagordo New Mexico when the human race gained the power to annihilate itself completely. Many of you will spew and spout and flame and gyrate in various odd forms of mental conniptions at the mear suggestion of course, but all that will do is get your perhaps inciteful opinions on the subject of HOW to do it properly ignored.

In other words what I'm saying is we're going to get joined into one big family, so figure out how to make it a happy one. Never in the history of the world have the sorts of challenges presented by the net been solved in any other way than some form of governmental union, and I don't bet against those sorts of odds.

:o)
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
Re: World Government is coming... (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by Demona on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 01:05:02 PM EST

"Nothing is inevitable except death and taxes, and even those should be avoided as much as possible."

Challenges of all sorts have been solved throughout history without "government", actually. I suppose it depends on your point of view.

[ Parent ]

You decide where it's settled. (none / 0) (#15)
by gandalf_grey on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 11:12:53 AM EST

You should have a legal statement, that defines under what legal juristiction disputes are settled. For an example, see: cognicase (chosen because they deal in ecommerce applications. See the APPLICABLE JURISDICTION section near the bottom).

What it really means is, you define your legal boundaries for the use of your site. Now, does this apply to international fraud, etc? Hard to say.

We need an international court (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by yannick on Tue Jul 18, 2000 at 10:36:24 PM EST

Suck or not, we need such a "global commission", although I would call it an international court, not a commission.

If I were asked to cite the greatest effect of the Internet on society as a whole (at least on Western society where it has become almost ubiquitous), I would point to the way it has forced us to reevaluate our opinions about countries, borders and international affairs.

The Internet is a global phenomenon. As such, we cannot rely upon national legal systems to resolve most Internet-related disputes. There has to be some higher body that can adjudicate in such matters and whose verdict will be universally accepted.

Perhaps because I am more than slightly sleep-deprived, I'm ready to say that the presence of a world court is imperative to the continued growth and well-being of the Internet and eCommerce (ewwwwwww... I hate that word). Without such a global legal infrastructure, the Internet will still grow, but it will evolve into an anarchic environment hostile to business and to new users. With the great security track-records of companies like Microsoft, being able to effectively prosecute crackers across national borders is rather important. Without this "global commission", we're going to see a resurgence of vigilante justice, which, you will agree, "sucks" more than having a global commission overseeing our affairs.

Oh, and you won't have said "global commission" knocking on your door with a warrant for your arrest if you don't do anything that would break international law. But you already knew that.
------
"Myself when young did eagerly frequent / Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument / About it and about: but evermore / Came out by the same Door as in I went." -- Omar Khayyam

Re: We need an international court (none / 0) (#20)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:44:11 PM EST

"Oh, and you won't have said "global commission" knocking on your door with a warrant for your arrest if you don't do anything that would break international law. But you already knew that." Exactly the point that should send all of us screaming aginst the travesty of a "World Court". Who would control the "international laws"? If we do it by population, then posting an anti-China website could have the "global net police" banging on your door. Or say religious extremeists, of any ilk, get control. Do you want to restrict you online posting to things acceptable to strict Islamic, or Christian, fundamentalists? Or will the court be more of a reflection of the U.N.? Where even now it is being decided that you can be held accountable and legally and finanvially liable for failing to intercede to stop something that really was none of your business in the first place. Do you want to be the operator of a high profile website that gets arrested for not sufficiently trying to stop the Rwandan massacre? And what if the "international laws" conflict with your local, duly voted on and passed, laws? I really think your comment shows the U.S. elitism at it worst, whatever country you are actually in. You, as so many in the U.S., just assume that it would be your local laws that would prevail in a world court. The reality is that the various laws that each country imposes on it's citizens are so varied and contradictory, that it would be impossible to set a single, global law that didn't directly violate some countries local sovereign laws.

[ Parent ]
Re: We need an international court (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by yannick on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 03:51:55 AM EST

First off, let me point out that I'm a Canadian living in Japan. As for my race, I'm about as mixed-up as they get. So no, I don't think I entertain an American bias.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me set myself up for some thorough flaming:

If we do it by population, then posting an anti-China website could have the "global net police" banging on your door. Or say religious extremeists, of any ilk, get control. Do you want to restrict you online posting to things acceptable to strict Islamic, or Christian, fundamentalists? Or will the court be more of a reflection of the U.N.?

I think all of kuro5hinís readers will agree that none of these will work. Placing control of something as significant as the future of the Internet and international relations in the hands of one particular group is foolish.

You, as so many in the U.S., just assume that it would be your local laws that would prevail in a world court.

No, US laws and regulations cannot and shall not prevail on the Internet. I said "world tribunal", not "Tribunal with global jurisdiction based on existing US legislation". There is a difference.

And what if the "international laws" conflict with your local, duly voted on and passed, laws? I really think your comment shows the U.S. elitism at it worst, whatever country you are actually inÖ The reality is that the various laws that each country imposes on it's citizens are so varied and contradictory, that it would be impossible to set a single, global law that didn't directly violate some countries local sovereign laws.

The question of national sovereignty is one that contiues to perplex political theorists and students of international affairs. Currently, the United Nations cannot adopt a resolution that contravenes a country's sovereignty. This, obviously, renders the UN impotent to effect any real, tangible change. As for illustrating ďU.S. elitism at it [sic] worstĒ: Iím probably doing a better job of promoting the interests of hamsters than I am of Americans.

The only solution I can find to this problem rests with the acknowledgement by everyone of a higher power to their respective nations. This isnít so much a shifting of fealties as it is the inclusion of another entity into our hierarchy of loyalties (individual --> family --> city --> country, and now planet). Until such time as one country is prepared to waive its claim to "sovereignty" for the betterment of the entire planet, we're going to be stuck in this rut and issues plaguing the entire planet will not be resolved. But thatís another story for another day.

Cheers,
Yannick
------
"Myself when young did eagerly frequent / Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument / About it and about: but evermore / Came out by the same Door as in I went." -- Omar Khayyam
[ Parent ]

Jurisdiction is very tricky. (none / 0) (#18)
by www.sorehands.com on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 01:40:58 PM EST

There is multiiple types of jurisidiction. You have criminal and civil. Now with civil, you have tort and contract.

What most of the comments here talk about is contracts. law.

What about criminal and other civil. Mattel sued me for libel in Mass.achusets, but I live in Texas, their headquaters are in California and the website is hosted in Florida.

I know of one Mass. lawyer that in (was as of last week) in the Broward County (S. Florida) for using an AOL account to try to pick up a minor in Florida. There is a case where a website in Navada (I think) state is charged with decency violations in Tenessee.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.barbieslapp.com
Mattel, SLAPP terrorists intent on destroying free speech.
-----------------------------------------------------------

Huge coming political brawl (none / 0) (#19)
by jdkatz on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 03:16:00 PM EST

The Net is what many brits call "U.S.Heavy" which is to say it's dominated by the United States because of usage, headquarters of technology companies and workers. International law is pretty well developed for commerce and crime, but the interesting thing about the Net is that there are no borders, and hopefully, won't ever be. It was certainly designed that way..as an open research enrivonment..I think the Net has the potentiall to radically affect politics as it confronts governments with this dilemma...go online or be left out of the global economy. The early Wired political theorists believed there would eventually be a Net government, but there seems no chance of that. There is nothing like a common political system online, right?

Re: Huge coming political brawl (none / 0) (#21)
by skim123 on Thu Jul 20, 2000 at 01:55:38 AM EST

the interesting thing about the Net is that there are no borders, and hopefully, won't ever be.

You say that now, but what if you got screwed over when buying something expensive online? (Or have you decided never to buy anything expensive online?)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Where are the Internet Borders Drawn? | 22 comments (20 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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