Jul 172009
 July 17, 2009  Posted by  Court, Non-U.S., Online, U.S.

from the this-is-bad… dept

For many years, we’ve discussed the many challenges faced by countries in trying to recognize that “jurisdiction” on the internet isn’t what they probably think it is. Many countries want to interpret internet jurisdiction as “if it’s accessible here via the internet, it’s covered by our laws.” But it doesn’t take much scenario planning to recognizing what a disaster would result from such an interpretation. Effectively that means that the most restrictive legislation anywhere in the world (think: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.) would apply everywhere else.

That’s why it’s quite worrisome to find out that Belgium is trying to fine Yahoo for protecting its users’ privacy and refusing to hand over user data to Belgian officials. Yahoo noted, accurately, that it does not have any operation in Belgium, and the data in question was held on US servers, not subject to Belgian law. On top of that, the US and Belgium have a good diplomatic relationship, such that such a data request could have gone through established diplomatic channels to make sure that US laws were properly obeyed as well. But, instead, Belgian officials just demanded the info from Yahoo’s US headquarters directly, and then took the company to criminal court where the judge issued the fine.

Read more on techdirt.

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