Jurisdiction and the Internet: Returning to Traditional Principles to Analyze Network-Mediated Contacts

Courts have been evaluating the issue of personal jurisdiction based on Internet or “network-mediated” contacts for some time. The U.S. Su-preme Court has remained silent on this issue, permitting the federal ap-peals courts to develop standards for determining when personal jurisdic-tion based on network-mediated contacts is appropriate. Unfortunately, the circuit approaches—which emphasize a Web site’s “interactivity” and “target audience”—are flawed because they are premised on an out-dated view of Internet activity as uncontrollably ubiquitous. This view has led courts to depart from traditional jurisdictional analysis and im-pose elevated and misguided jurisdictional standards. This article argues that courts should reinstitute traditional principles to analyze jurisdiction based on network-mediated contacts in light of current technology that enables Internet actors to restrict the geographical reach of their virtual conduct. Such a return will be fairer for plaintiffs while recognizing the legitimate due process rights of defendants.

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