Jurisdiction and the Internet: Returning to Traditional Principles to Analyze Network-Mediated Contacts

63 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2005

See all articles by A. Benjamin Spencer

A. Benjamin Spencer

Harvard Law School; University of Virginia School of Law

Abstract

Courts have been evaluating the issue of personal jurisdiction based on Internet or "network-mediated" contacts for some time. The U.S. Supreme Court has remained silent on this issue, permitting the federal appeals courts to develop standards for determining when personal jurisdiction based on network-mediated contacts is appropriate. Unfortunately, the circuit approaches - which emphasize a website's "interactivity" and "target audience" - are flawed because they are premised on an outdated view of Internet activity as uncontrollably ubiquitous. This view has led courts to depart from traditional jurisdictional analysis and impose elevated and misguided jurisdictional standards. This Article argues that courts should reinstitute traditional principles to analyze jurisdiction based on network-mediated contacts because of current technology that enables Internet actors to restrict the geographical reach of their virtual conduct. Such a return will be fairer for plaintiffs while recognizing the legitimate due process rights of defendants.

Keywords: Personal Jurisdiction, Internet, Website, Jurisdiction, Zippo, International Shoe, Pennoyer

Suggested Citation

Spencer, A. Benjamin, Jurisdiction and the Internet: Returning to Traditional Principles to Analyze Network-Mediated Contacts. University of Illinois Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=706629

A. Benjamin Spencer (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://hls.harvard.edu/faculty/directory/11916/Spencer

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434.924.3572 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.virginia.edu/lawweb/faculty.nsf/FHPbI/2299812

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