Personal Jurisdiction Based on the Location of a Server: Chinese Territorialism in the Internet Era? by Jie (Jeanne) Huang, Wisconsin International Law Journal, Volume 36, Issue 1, p. 87.
Whether a court can exercise personal jurisdiction based on the location of a server in internet1 tort cases is a controversial issue. Its significance comes from the paradox that the internet is de-localized because it is ubiquitous, but servers are indispensable to the internet and every server has a geographic location. Since 2001, Chinese law has allowed courts to exercise personal jurisdiction solely based on the location of a server or other computing equipment in intellectual property infringement cases. Recently, it has extended this jurisdiction rule to all internet torts. This paper asks whether the location of a server should be considered the place where the tort occurs and whether this territorial-based jurisdiction rule can suffice its public-law legislative goal. It may enrich current research about technology-mediated legal challenges to private international law in two aspects. Firstly, it conducts a broad international survey by looking into laws in China, the U.S., Australia and the EU. It also analyzes where the tort occurs when servers are owned by an infringer, a third party or an infringee in domain name registration, service outsourcing, platform, cloud computing, commercial spams, etc. It concludes that in legal theory, the location of the server is not the place where an internet tort occurs. Secondly, by analyzing China’s experience, it argues that, in the internet era, states have to look for private-international-law tools to advance their public policy claims. However, the practice shows that the territorial-based jurisdiction rule is limited in fulfilling its pubic-law legislative goal.