Jurisdiction is seen as one of the biggest challenges for cyber law. Jurisdiction refers to the authority and power for a government to legislate and enforce laws. These abilities are typically bound to physical territorial areas and limits. The internet is borderless. Nation states can attempt to prosecute based on where a defendant resides or if a plaintiff can prove a defendant intended to cause them injury (cyber tort) (Carle, J. C., & Perrit, H. H., Jr., 2006.). For example, a country who has sensitive data stolen can charge a person who has released that information, as the U.S. has done with Edward Snowden and Julian Assange. Yet, bringing them physically to trial for prosecution is not always successful, especially when other international laws interfere. For example, Russia does not have a extradition treaty with the U.S. and Russia will not extradite those who commit cybercrime against the U.S. There are ways around this, such as when the U.S. arrested Roman Seleznev, a known hacker who stole credit card data, when he traveled outside of Russia to the Maldives (Bertrand, 2015).

In order to resolve jurisdictional issues, policy makers need to determine if the internet needs to be viewed as it’s own global space/body or if actions on the internet are subject to  the laws of the nation where the crimes were committed or the suspect/defendant resides. If the internet is seen as its own body, so to speak, then it would need to and would be able to self-regulate. If the internet was seen as its own entity it could enforce global laws that are developed. This, of course, would take the buy-in and cooperation between countries, internationally. Every country has its own laws regarding cyberspace and what activities/content is legal or illegal. As its own separate entity, any illegal activity conducted over the internet could be prosecuted without the differences we currently have in international laws and would have global jurisdiction to enforce laws and prosecute illegal activity. A separate organization/court could be created, much like the International Court of Justice (The Hague), but with full international acceptance of its jurisdiction across a global internet.


Bertrand, N. (2015, March 11). Notorious Russian hacker was nabbed in the Maldives and extradited over 8,800 miles. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/notorious-russian-hacker-kidnapped-by-us-was-nabbed-in-the-maldives-2015-3

Carle, J. C., & Perrit, H. H., Jr. (2006, January/February). Civil Liability on the Internet. Retrieved from http://www.americanbar.org/content/newsletter/publications/gp_solo_magazine_home/gp_solo_magazine_index/civilliability.html

Developing Cybersecurity Law and Policy [UMUC CSEC 635 – Module 5]. (2016).