The Threat of Long-Arm Jurisdiction to Electronic Commerce

Robert J. Aalberts, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Anthony M. Townsend, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Michael E. Whitman, Kennesaw State University


One of the critical legal issues seriously threatening the continued growth of the Internet as a commerce medium concerns the exposure of Internet businesses to the long-arm jurisdiction of courts in 50 different states. Under the US legal system, any federal or state court can impose its authority upon parties in any other state if it can demonstrate jurisdiction. It is often legally or strategically advantageous to a plaintiff to file a legal action in a particular state's court. The threat of being called into court in any one of 50 different states could be enough to dissuade many businesses from ever operating on the Internet. Some practical considerations that may help an organization plan its Internet presence are discussed, including: 1. Limit the amount of interaction. 2. Choose an ISP carefully. 3. Limit access to certain locales.