The Enforcers The Hague Convention

| April 10, 2002

The Enforcers: The Hague Convention and the Threat to Internet Freedoms and Consumer Rights, Charlie Cray, Multinational Monitor
Users of the Internet may soon face a higher risk of international lawsuits. Charlie Cray of the Multinational Monitor warns that the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction and Foreign Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters (commonly known as the Hague Convention), a treaty now under negotiation by 50 countries--including the U.S.--would adversely affect all users of the Internet, from consumers and people posting opinions to website developers and writers. Drafted in 1992, the treaty was originally devised to uphold inidivual country's legal rulings internationally. But drafters did not foresee the rising use of the Internet. In the global Internet domain, determining what laws to abide by is already murky, and the Hague Convention's policies could increase the confusion: Possible results include a diminished freedom to comment critically on another country's public figures and government, as well as what Cray sees as the potential to subject 'both consumers and businesses to virtually any jurisdiction where the Internet is available--giving plaintiffs the ability to shop around for a legal forum where they might have an advantage.'
--Julie Madsen
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