2 Jun 2010

Cyberspace jurisdiction and Sovereign States

Jurisdiction has always been one critical issue in cyber-offences. Given the fact that the world-wide-web ("www") can be accessed from any where in the world (and thus touches the boundary of each of the countries and their respective jurisdiction), literally any and every offence committed in cyberspace can be called for scrutiny by courts of any or all countries. On the contrary, in as much as the cyberspace is not within the "territorial" limits of a country, it is always open to the accused to argue lack of jurisdiction. However what is critical is the fact that issues to this regard are not limited to these. Rather the peculiarities of the web leave much to the imagination rather than clear thinking. In fact we had pondered over these issues in one of our earlier posts.

Recently we came across a paper on SSRN which does explore this wishful thought of defining an appropriate and more importantly, a definite forum for determination of offences committed in the cyberspace. Submitted before the 12th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Henrik S. Spang Hanssen in the paper titled Cyberspace or Sovereign States presents some interesting thoughts on this issue.

The abstract doesn't say it all when it states that the "paper suggests the international community must decide whether to let all nations exercise 'Global Jurisdiction' without any limitation to the extraterritorial reach/range of national jurisdiction OR still want to be divided into sovereign states in relation to Cyberspace." However it does raise interesting issues facing the countries in as much as they continue to retain and exercise jurisdiction over offences committed in cyberspace. An interesting reading. 

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