Law and Borders - the Rise of Law in Cyberspace

37 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 1997


Global computer-based communications cut across territorial borders, creating a new realm of human activity and undermining the feasibility--and legitimacy--of applying laws based on geographic boundaries. While these electronic communications play havoc with geographic boundaries, a new boundary, made up of the screens and passwords that separate the virtual world from the real world of atoms, emerges. This new boundary defines a distinct Cyberspace that needs and can create new law and legal institutions of its own. Territorially-based law-making and law-enforcing authorities find this new environment deeply threatening. But established territorial authorities may yet learn to defer to the self-regulatory efforts of Cyberspace participants who care most deeply about this new digital trade in ideas, information, and services. Separated from doctrine tied to territorial jurisdictions, new rules will emerge, in a variety of on-line spaces, to govern a wide range of new phenomena that have no clear parallel in the nonvirtual world. These new rules will play the role of law by defining legal personhood and property, resolving disputes, and crystallizing a collective conversation about core values.

Keywords: Internet, Cyberspace, regulation

JEL Classification: K33, K39, K10

Suggested Citation

Johnson, David Reynold and Post, David G., Law and Borders - the Rise of Law in Cyberspace. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 48, p. 1367, 1996. Available at SSRN: or

David Reynold Johnson (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

David G. Post

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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