The Politics of Internet Control

Why Geography & Borders Matter?


Borders may allow for a separation of nation-state networks as highlighted by China, however, borders do play a positive role within the Internet as it permits people of different ideologies and values to coexist globally. In International law it is fundamental to have borders in place with local laws for global companies such as Google, Yahoo, eBay and AOL to comply with when doing business.

Countries can go after large multinational corporations when these companies assist in violations of local laws, but can’t control or do anything directly to Internet users outside of the geographical border. This situation for large multinationals having to abide by many overlapping and contradictory laws is nothing new. McDonalds comply with many different health regulations all over the world wherever it does business, Microsoft complies with many different consumer protection laws relevant to where it sells its software. This leads to the question, why should the Internet be any different?

The accepted answer for this is that Internet giants such as Google, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon and AOL, are all different from real-space multinational companies. This is because of the Internet’s architecture, which stops them from knowing where in the world their information content goes making it impossible to abide by all the local laws in place. It is at this point that Web giants and governments have been known to clash.

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