Each country has the right to exercise jurisdiction over its citizens, territory, and subject matter. However, the relationship between jurisdiction and the Internet has been ambiguous, because the Internet is global. Jurisdiction depends predominantly on the geographical division of the world into national territories, while the Internet facilitates considerable cross-border exchange, which is difficult (although not impossible) to monitor via traditional government mechanisms. The question of jurisdiction of the Internet highlights one of the central dilemmas associated with Internet governance: How is it possible to ‘anchor’ the Internet within existing legal and political geographies?

In recent years, courts have been faced with an increasing number of cases with challenging jurisdictional elements. The judgments on the right to be forgotten – cases involving authorities requesting data located in other jurisdictions – and the invalidation of the Safe Harbour agreement are notable examples. In these cases, questions of jurisdiction have put courts to the test.

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Our Experts

Ms Pavlina Ittelson

Project Officer, DiploFoundation

Ms Pavlina Ittelson is Program Officer at Diplo US. She also monitors the topics of jurisdiction and alternative dispute resolution for the GIP Digital Watch Observatory. Previously, Pavlina was a legal project manager on international business, science, and technology.