International Internet Laws – Part III

International internet laws are related to international commercial disputes, jurisdiction, judgment enforcement, free speech and censorship, e-commerce transactions, intellectual property rights, or cybersecurity and privacy.

International commercial disputes can take place in foreign jurisdictions since the internet has no borders. The internet comprises of commercial, educational, governmental, and international networks that use certain communication protocols – e.g., TCP/IP, UDP, ICMP, HTTP, POP, FTP, IMAP – to communicate with each other. These protocols are used for data transmission across computer networks. For example, TCP/IP enables data exchange by providing end-to-end communications. UDP is used by software programs to transmit short datagram messages. ICMP is used for diagnostics and generating system error reports. HTTP, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, is a client-server protocol that permits access to web resources. POP is used to extract and download emails from a remote server. FTP, which stands for File Transfer Protocol, is used to send or receive files to or from a server and client computer.  IMAP, which stands for Internet Message Access Protocol, is used by email clients to download messages from a mail server. In short, these protocols are used to send and receive electronic information across the network of computers.

The issue of jurisdiction is important because there could be various reasons why a state or federal court would not choose to exercise authority over the parties. The courts have set out parameters for determining whether they can exercise jurisdiction. These parameters include the location of parties, defendant’s physical presence in the jurisdiction, and nature of violations towards the plaintiff.

A litigant who has obtained a judgment should enforce it in the proper jurisdiction. For example, if the judgment was obtained in the United States, it can be enforced in a foreign nation as long as the foreign court recognizes the judgment. The litigant may be required to domesticate the foreign judgment to make it enforceable pursuant to an international treaty such as the Hague Convention. This way, the litigant who may also be referred to as the “judgment creditor” can legally enforce the judgment in the foreign nation.

Free speech rights have been granted by the state and federal constitutions. It is a rudimentary principle that is embedded within the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment states that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Therefore, every individual has the right to exercise free speech, however, it is not an absolute right. Moreover, censorship has been a hot topic in recent years.

E-commerce transactions allow online businesses to buy or sell their products and services to their clients. These transactions are consummated by electronically signing agreements between the parties. There are state and federal laws that allow the parties to engage in such transactions. For example, the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (“E-SIGN”) Act that is codified under 15 U.S.C. §§ 7001-7006, and Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“UETA”) that is codified under Civil Code §§ 1633.1-1633.17 are relevant statutes. E-commerce transactions take place through different payment methods such as credit cards, debit cards, and virtual currencies. Blockchain technology allows the parties to transfer funds by using digital currencies (e.g., Bitcoin) without the involvement of a central bank. There are also other payment methods such as PayPal, Square, and Venmo. However, security is a concern that can be mitigated by using the proper tools and techniques. For example, implementing encryption, firewalls, and two-factor authentication is always recommended. Also, implementing Secure Sockets Layer (“SSL”) technology is another effective method to promote cybersecurity. For example, it is used by financial institutions to secure online transactions. Now, when it comes to cybersecurity and privacy, there are a number of preventive and reactive measures that can be implemented to achieve goals. For example, properly training employees is a key factor. In addition, upgrading hardware and software programs on an ongoing basis is another key factor.

It’s important to know your legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to international internet laws and e-commerce transactions. Please contact our law firm to speak with an international internet attorney at your earliest convenience.