Choice of Law

Choice of law is the method provided to govern the use of websites by way of international law.  Each area (ie: territory, state and country) has different laws and as the web developed databases to store peoples data; it was deemed to be too difficult to support the intepretation of law as it applies to individuals.

Each website therefore uses ‘choice of law‘ as a means to govern the use of their products (and your data).

The embedded map shows ‘choice of law‘ as it applies to some of the more popular products and services provided on the Web.

The examples provided above (as mapped in 2016) show where the ‘governing law’ is applied for the software based services provided world-wide.  The implications are enumerate. Put simply, the intepretation of many local laws, including Telecommunications and intellectual property; is governed by default on the intepretation of laws in the territory for which ‘choice of law‘ is claimed by way of the ‘terms of service‘ or agreement made when electing to use the website.

Whilst Governments and Enterprise may enter into agreements to vary the terms in which they use the products and services provided by these organisations; individuals, or citizens of sovereign countries  around the world are not reasonably able to do so.  Where disputes come about, it is expected that the user seek legal intervention by way of a court in the territory nominated by the ‘choice of law‘ contract; and indeed, if the user does not agree to this, then they should not ‘click the button’ which in-turn means, they should not use the website.  This becomes particularly difficult pragmatically when considering the implications of not using some of these sites and/or software services (ie: mobile phone operating systems).

Furthermore; governments do not hold the same expectations of legal responsibility over foreign nationals (‘legal aliens’) as they do for residential citizens.  This is a complex area of Web Science that has largely been left without broad community engagement, discussion and consideration.

Traditionally; software products, before the widespread use of internet, maintained their own ‘choice of law‘ in software licenses as to protect their products from wrongful exploitation and/or misuse.  These forms of principles are still, many would consider, quite reasonable.  Yet these principles have in-turn been applied to the accumulation of data that was previously stored by individuals (for example, on floppy disks) and is now stored by the website to which a license is granted as part of the usage agreement and its terms.

As Internet related technologies continue to develop modern, dynamic & ‘artificial intelligence’ empowered services through the utility of these services one might consider that perhaps the application of a legal framework as initially designed to protect the creative work of the software vendor; may not be the most appropriate asymmetrical framework to apply to the ‘knowledge economy’ powered by humans in conjunction with the use of these globally integrated products and services.

Meanwhile; regardless of how a ‘consumer’ data is stored or considered by way of law interoperable with participating entities; it is still expected that citizens maintain adherence to their own choice of law, as a ‘natural legal entity’ / consumer.


This article may contain errors.  For specific legal advice is it advised interested parties seek professional advice from a legal professional.