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An email sent between two cities in China probably would travel through the United States -- putting its contents under American jurisdiction.
November 22, 2001 11:13 AM   Subscribe

An email sent between two cities in China probably would travel through the United States -- putting its contents under American jurisdiction. The recently approved anti-terrorism law is a "massive expansion of U.S. sovereignty" that could be used to prosecute foreign hackers. And once that precedent is established, much of global Internet communications could come under American authority.
posted by tranquileye (17 comments total)

 
Our turn of the century Imperealist foreign policy angered all the Latin American countries. Hopefully, we don't anger the world this time around.
posted by alex3005 at 1:36 PM on November 22, 2001


There is no reason why the internet has to be US-centric. Countries concerned about this should build up their internet infrastructure.
posted by phatboy at 1:47 PM on November 22, 2001


So other states get a free ride on our infrastructure, which we paid for, and then bitch about it when we use it for our own self interest. Sorry, whatever reservations I have about the anti-terrorism bill, I'm not too concerned about this.
posted by prodigal at 1:50 PM on November 22, 2001


It's news that the US govt considers the world its jurisdiction?

It will be such fun to see the US legally go after things like this and, simultaneously, continue to refuse to recognize International Court of Justice decisions like this one (PDF is 4.8mb).
posted by mmarcos at 2:00 PM on November 22, 2001


A free ride, prodigal? OK, let's take that path, I'm curious, and get some clear concepts on your argument because I don't understand exactly who and what you are referring to. Who paid to get the whole thing going, who pays for the communication fees now and who benefits from it?

Separately, what would you think of an inverted situation, another country snoops on email of a US citizen, etc., etc.? Are you willing to play fair or just one-way?
posted by mmarcos at 2:24 PM on November 22, 2001


Well, I suspect there are a few French judges who'd like to see a parallel approach to jurisdiction applied to Yahoo.
posted by holgate at 2:37 PM on November 22, 2001



So, for example, an e-mail sent between two cities in China probably
would travel through the United States -- putting its contents under
American jurisdiction.


This seems highly improbable to me, and that fact that they don't attribute it to anyone doesn't help their case. It's certainly *not* true for any industrialized nation. If it *is* true for China, it is a ridiculously perverse waste of bandwidth, and if this law accomplishes nothing else than to get the Chinese to string a few data lines between their cities, than I'm all for it.
posted by electro at 3:24 PM on November 22, 2001


Given the US government's pretty poor track record when it comes to intelligence gathering and analysis I doubt there is any relevance to this bit of news.
posted by clevershark at 3:31 PM on November 22, 2001


A friend of mine when to china, and he said that while they had DSL everywhere, the internet was still slow, beacuse china had few external links. But traffic too and from other cities such as Hong Kong was fast.


The only thing I can think of is if some person in China was using a US service provider for email (IE hotmail, AOL). That dosn't seem to likely to me though.
posted by delmoi at 3:50 PM on November 22, 2001


mmarcos,

Now, you've done it. I'm going to have to read the article instead of skimming it and spouting off.

When I say it's our infrastructure, I'm referring to geographic facts. Due to the U.S. early lead in deploying the technology behind the internet, a disproportionate amount of internet traffic crosses through our borders. I don't see how ip packets are different from rail cars, or shipping containers in this respect. If we feel that some of the contents of that traffic is threatening to our welfare, then I feel we have every right to examine it as it crosses our borders, just as U.S. Customs will inspect shipping containers that enter the U.S. At this point, it's cheaper for the China's of the world to piggyback on our communications infrastructure than it is to build their own. As phatboy suggests, there's no reason that the internet has to be U.S.-centric. If China is concerned about an extension of U.S. sovereignity, they can build up their infrastructure so that packets don't have to come all the way to our shores.


As for who paid to get the whole thing going, the DoD developed and deployed the prototype of the internet. Since then, it's been a combination of public and private efforts. Who pays the fees now? The users, of course. But this doesn't mean that there aren't restricted uses. I'm pretty sure Panama prevents certain cargoes from moving through the canal. It also doesn't override the fact that nations have eminent domain over the physical communication lines within their borders.


Am I willing to pay fair? Sure. As long the laws are reasonable. If I use French infrastructure to commit sabotage on U.S. computers, then I would expect to be prosecuted by both governments. I do think the obscenity example referred to in the article is highly improbable. Let's face it, it would be extremely expensive and politically impractical to use this law to extradite people who have not commited serious crimes involving loss of life or property.
posted by prodigal at 4:07 PM on November 22, 2001


"David Sobel, general counsel of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the change is particularly troubling when coupled with powers to send federal agents overseas to abduct and bring back suspects for trial. "

What? We don't need to extradite 'em, when we can get'em ourselves, no use relying on those free loadin' commie bastards or those crazy international laws.
posted by X-00 at 4:40 PM on November 22, 2001


Fiber is owned by telcos, not necessarily government. Some telcos are either multinational or owned by foreign nations. Kinda muddles the issue a bit.
posted by skallas at 5:51 PM on November 22, 2001


that should have been foreign interests.
posted by skallas at 5:51 PM on November 22, 2001


other states get a free ride on our infrastructure
(prodigal)

Is absolutely true. Sharing has to work both ways, from any moral standpoint. If that infrastructure is used - as it certainly is - to attack the U.S., then this is doubly so.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:01 AM on November 23, 2001


US shuts down Somalia internet [from BBC] : "Reports say the Somali Internet Company was forced to close when it realised that its international gateway had been cut off. Al-Barakaat, Somalia's largest company with interests in telecommunications, banking and postal services, closed its financial businesses after its assets were frozen. Its international telephone service was then shut down when its international gateway - run jointly by AT&T and British Telecom - was also cut off."
posted by Carol Anne at 8:03 AM on November 23, 2001


US shuts down Somalia internet (Second Try!)
posted by Carol Anne at 8:05 AM on November 23, 2001


Thanks for that link Carol Anne, that's distressing. No justice for third world countries without the international clout to take on the US I see. I wonder how many more will suffer during the war on terrorism.
posted by Summer at 3:06 AM on November 24, 2001


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