Personal Jurisdiction in Cyberspace

Jay Kesan
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Law

The issue of personal jurisdiction over cyberactors is of great importance to consumers and businesses alike who wish to partake in the myriad types of transactions made possible through the Internet. This module addresses the rules and doctrines for deciding when a forum may exercise personal jurisdiction over a party based on the nature of her activities in cyberspace. The module begins with a brief summary of the law of personal jurisdiction, focusing primarily on Supreme Court jurisprudence outlining the Due Process requirements for exercising personal jurisdiction. This sets the stage for applying these principles to cyberspace. The module discusses the extent to which these principles can be applied coherently in cyberspace, and whether reasoned distinctions can be drawn by focusing on a few, relevant criteria related to the nature of the activities of the cyberactors in question. Such criteria include the specific characteristics of a party's web site, for example, the extent of interactivity permitted; the nature of the defendant's activity; and the nature of the plaintiff's claim. The module concludes by examining two specific proposals for personal jurisdiction in cyberspace.


  1. Brief Summary of Personal Jurisdiction Law
  2. Interactive Web Sites and Persistent Contacts
  3. Passive Web Sites
  4. Nature of Defendant's Activity
  5. Nature of Plaintiff's Claim
  6. Suggested Class Room Discussion Topic

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