Saturday, April 08, 2006

Internet Jurisdiction and Global E-Commerce Subcommittee

The Internet Jurisdiction and Global E-Commerce Subcommittee assembled a lucky 13 participants to discuss three topics.

  • The first was Internet governance: has the Cyberspace Committee something to say on that topic, would the ABA agree, and would anyone else in the world care?
  • The second was a project on state (and probably federal) courts' response to choice of law provisions in internet transactions.
  • The third was whether Cyberspace, and/or the Section, should support the submission by the Section of Science and Technology to the Department of State that the US should sign the UNCITRAL Convention on the use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts.

On the first topic: considerable scepticism on all three points. The subject was considered inchoate at the international level, with "high barriers to entry" because of the complexity, density and high political content of the material (not to mention the travel budgets required to participate in meetings). If anything were to be done, it should be on narrow focused and ideally relatively technical topics, rather than big policy issues like "should policy be set bottom-up, as with ICANN and its user constituencies, or top-down by governments?"

The meeting discussed whether to try to formulate a solution to the WHOIS issues presented by Kristine Dorrain at the Hot Topics session on Friday morning. For reasons to be outlined in more detail in the report of the meeting on the Subcommittee's home page (in due course), there was some reluctance to undertake this. The topic was left with an invitation from the chair to propose topics, ideally narrow and manageable.

The second topic, on choice of law, was inspired by a recent California case and by revised Article 1 of the UCC, which has been adopted in California - but nearly nowhere else, so far, at least on this subject. There was some discussion about how closely linked the questions were to the UCC. At the end, the project was thought to be worth pursuing, so the chair would pursue volunteers, offline and on. It was thought that someone with students with term papers might be a good candidate. It might be useful to reach out to other subcommittees.

The third topic, the UNCITRAL Convention, led to discussions about the nature of the decision to sign conventions under the current US administration, the differences between signature and ratification, the role of NCCUSL and implementing legislation generally, and the process for joining the SciTech submission if we wanted to. Detailed discussion was left for the meeting of the Working Group on International Policy, but the meeting favoured, nemo dissentiente, moving towards support of SciTech and US signature of the Convention.

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