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International law and the Internet

Contrary to popular belief, the Internet was not designed as a coherent entity to fulfil commercial, military or social objectives. The piecemeal linkage of networks at the local scale has created a communications system that operates on a global scale.

Early realisation that no single country's law applied to the Internet led to the often quoted misapprehension that no law applied to the Internet. It is now widely understood that the "law applies online" but it is far less clear which law that should be.

Recent international treaties and conventions have now created a common framework that should allow consistency between jurisdictions in dealing with the myriad problems that flow across national boundaries. However, governments are still not prepared to surrender sovereignty and allow cross border operations by police forces.

How will laws be enforced online? How will the inevitable conflicts between the laws and procedures of different territories be handled? Will we have to tolerate the most restrictive practices or the lowest common denominators?

> FIPR response to the DTI Spam Directive consultation

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