Internet law is a strange concept. For any law to work, it needs to apply to a specific area. Countries have laws that apply within their borders, and even international laws apply only to those countries that have accepted them. The internet, however, exists in all countries and none at the same time. So how do we control what happens online? What does internet law even mean? And how can you conduct yourself in a safe and legal way in cyberspace?
What is internet law?
The internet impacts various areas of our daily lives, and so internet law is a mixture of the various laws that apply to these areas, plus a few areas of law that have been developed specifically for the internet. General laws that apply in an internet context include:
- intellectual property law
- contract law
- privacy law
- harassment laws
More specific laws include:
- data protection
How can we help you?
We have specialised in internet law (or cyber law) and internet regulations for over 20 years. We have helped make the law accessible and empowering to various businesses and entities, including:
- e-commerce businesses,
- website design companies,
- web hosting companies,
- internet service providers,
- digital entertainment developers, and
- regular internet users
The internet and new technologies will continue to redefine the traditional boundaries of law. We can help you to understand the new opportunities that these technologies provide, or how they might impact your businesses.
We can also help you to:
- protect your and your employees or customers’ privacy and data protection rights
- protect your online life through social media law
- protect your business and assets with cybercrime law
- manage and market your business legally, by understanding how electronic communications regulation impacts you
- get a firm understanding of international data protection law, and answer the question, “What is the GDPR?”
Where does internet law apply?
While the internet can exist anywhere, the main laws that apply to it are those of the country that a particular user is in at the moment. A foreign country’s laws, for example, would generally not affect a user accessing the internet from their home country. However, this isn’t always the case, and some countries could create laws that allow them to prosecute users outside of their jurisdiction. In these cases, those users could be arrested if they ever entered that country, or they could be arrested in their home country and transferred to the prosecuting country (if there is an extradition treaty between the two countries). While this is very far-reaching, it is also difficult to implement – but the possibility is there, and could be used in serious cases.
How else is the internet regulated?
There are various other ways that the internet is regulated, outside of country-specific laws. These include things like:
- Net neutrality – the concept that all online data should be treated the same, regardless of what it is, where it comes from, who sends it, or how it is processed. This is not a law in itself, but rather a concept that many countries wish for their law to uphold, like free speech;
- The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – a US law which creates a powerful process for taking copyright infringements down from online platforms, and protects online service providers from the infringements of their users. While this is technically a country-specific law, the practical effect is global;
- The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – an EU regulation which requires certain minimum standards of data protection for anyone processing data of an EU citizen, or processing data in the EU. Like the DMCA, the GDPR is also an area-specific law, but the practical effect can be global.
- The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – a non-profit corporation that regulates the creation, sale and transfer of domain names to the public, regardless of where in the world the registrar selling that particular domain name may be. Almost every accessible website online has been traded (or has had disputes resolved) via the ICANN regulations.