On a recent trip to Prague and London the reality of the impact of the Internet on our lives was reinforced. On every corner there’s an Internet café, WIFI, cell (mobile) phone store, or McDonald’s, and it is clear that the Internet now pervades world-wide communications. But a report concerning a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights should also remind Internet users that geographic boundaries mean far less today than ever before since European Court of Human Rights decided that a UK hacker named Gary McKinnon should be expedited to the US because of accusations that he broke into computers belonging to NASA and the US military. One critical point is that he has never been in the US.

NOT THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL JURISDICTION BATTLE

The 2000 injunction in France restraining Yahoo!’s US website from selling Nazi memorabilia because it is illegal in France is still in place. This is very old news, but the US courts claimed that even the First Amendment protects free speech in the US, the US courts do not have jurisdiction over the French plaintiffs and their lawsuit in France.  

VIRTUAL JURISDICTION

Another interesting ruling about jurisdiction that should get everyone’s attention was a Pennsylvania Court that ruled that open forums held by Avatars in SecondLife where Pennsylvania residents attended meant that jurisdiction in Pennsylvania rather than California where SecondLife is headquartered.