Table of Contents

Research Handbook on International Law and Cyberspace

Research Handbook on International Law and Cyberspace

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Nicholas Tsagourias and Russell Buchan

This timely Research Handbook contains an analysis of various legal questions concerning cyberspace and cyber activities and provides a critical account of their effectiveness. Expert contributors examine the application of fundamental international law principles to cyberspace such as sovereignty, jurisdiction, state responsibility, individual criminal responsibility, and intellectual property rights. In addition to this, they explore the application of international law rules to cyber terrorism, cyber espionage, cyber crime, cyber attacks and cyber war and discuss the cyber security policies of international and regional institutions.

Chapter 2: Jurisdiction in cyberspace

Uta Kohl

Subjects: law - academic, internet and technology law, public international law, regulation and governance, terrorism and security law


On a formal level, the rules of jurisdiction under customary international law deal with the question of which State (vis-à-vis other States) has the right to regulate which transnational event, that is, to make, apply and enforce their laws. This issue has become hotly disputed in the online environment which affects a wide of spectrum of laws – from defamation, privacy, contract and intellectual property law to criminal and regulatory law on e.g. obscenity, pharmaceutical licencing and gambling laws – and appears to defy the traditional location-centric allocation of regulatory control. The reason for this high level of contentiousness is that, on a substantive level, jurisdictional rules go to the heart of statehood and sovereignty by providing each State with the legal authority to protect the ‘rule of law’ within their territorial boundaries. Against this background, it is perhaps to be expected that the internet’s transnationality has been ‘resolved’ rather aggressively in favour of preserving each State’s territorial dominion at the expense of the coherence of the overall allocation framework. Yet, what are the costs of squeezing transnational online communications into the national law straitjacket, for the future of the internet and for freedom of transnational expression; and what, if any, are the alternatives?

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