States and Internet Enforcement

18 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2004


This essay addresses the enforcement of decisions through Internet instruments. Traditionally, a state's enforcement power was bounded by territorial limits. However, for the online environment, the lack of local assets and the assistance of foreign courts no longer constrain state enforcement powers. States can enforce their decisions and policies through Internet instruments. Online mechanisms are available and can be developed for such pursuits. The starting point is a brief justification of Internet enforcement as the obligation of democratic states. Next, the essay describes the movement to re-engineer the Internet infrastructure by public and private actions and argues that the re-engineering facilitates state enforcement of legal and policy decisions. The essay maintains that states will increasingly try to use network intermediaries such as payment systems and Internet service providers as enforcement instruments. Finally and most importantly, the essay focuses on ways that states may harness the power of technological instruments such as worms, filters and packet interceptors to enforce decisions and sanction malfeasance.

Keywords: Internet, enforcement, technology, law, jurisdiction, international law, liability

Suggested Citation

Reidenberg, Joel R., States and Internet Enforcement. Available at SSRN:

Joel R. Reidenberg (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
212-636-6843 (Phone)
212-930-8833 (Fax)


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