James J. Black


The explosive growth in the number of people communicating from computers around the world via the Internet ("Net") has led to the proliferation of another type of speech, namely, scholarly articles on virtually every aspect of the Net and its many influences on life in America. One topic that has received a great deal of attention is the extent to which laws applicable within the geographical territory of the United States may be applied to the freewheeling world of Cyberspace, which knows virtually no geographical limitations. Many commentators in the United States have followed one of two streams of argument: either they have restricted their analyses to the ways in which existing U.S. law should or will affect the rights and responsibilities of Net users within the United States, or they have argued that no country's laws should apply to Cyberspace. The former group ignores the essentially international nature of the Net and overlooks the fact that regulation of the Net likely will happen at least in part at the international level. The latter group unrealistically claims that Cyberspace should be viewed by countries around the world as a new, separate jurisdiction with both the right and the ability to govern itself. These Cyber-activists overlook the fact that virtually no country in the world is likely to agree to this approach, as it would require them to cede a degree of sovereignty to a nebulous group of self-appointed self-regulators.