The Internet: Law Without Borders in the Information Age — Introduction

Jessica D. Litman, University of Michigan Law School


The Internet is quickly making geographic borders metaphorical. Where actions with legal significance consist of streams of electrons taking varying paths among computers all over the world, we need to adjust our laws' conception of "place." There are a variety of rules we could adopt to fit events occurring over the Internet into pre-existing categories; there are a variety of alternative models we could adopt instead. Some of the conventional models, though, are clearly unworkable: We don't now have, and seem unlikely to develop, any way to put border guards between computers located in different jurisdictions to examine all of the electrons streaming through. Governments, lawyers, and legal scholars are just beginning to think about these questions in a systematic way.