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Why Less Is More When It Comes to Internet Jurisdiction

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Why Less Is More When It Comes to Internet Jurisdiction, illustrative photo

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates / Shutterstock

In the days before widespread broadband, social networks, and online video, a French anti-racism group launched the Internet lawsuit heard round the world. In late 1999, the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism—or Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l'Antisémitisme (LICRA) in French—filed suit against then-Internet giant Yahoo, seeking a court order to compel the company to block French residents' access to postings displaying Nazi memorabilia. While Yahoo already blocked access to content on its local French site (, the lawsuit targeted the company's primary site based in the U.S. (

The case attracted immediate interest since it struck at the heart of one of the Internet's most challenging issues—how to bring the seemingly borderless Internet to a bordered world. Given that the Internet has little regard for conventional borders, the question of whose law applies, which court gets to apply it, and how it can be enforced is seemingly always a challenge.


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