This Note summarizes recent tests of state and federal Internet content regulations and analyzes the impact the Internet's incompatibility with "real space" geography had or might have had on the courts' reasoning. To some extent, it posits what problems the incompatibility poses for impending legislation. In the midst of such discussion, this Note opines that state and federal regulations of the Internet could conceivably both fail Constitutional muster, due specifically to the internet's physical shortcomings. Part II of this Note offers a background of the Internet's different communication capacities and describes its conflicts with geography. Part III summarizes the courts' problems in deciding whether they have personal jurisdiction over specific Internet activities. Part IV briefly outlines arguments for and against state regulation of the Internet. First, it capsulizes the U.S. Supreme Court's dormant Commerce Clause standards. Second, it summarizes one federal court's application of those standards to invalidate a state Internet content law. Third, it applies the standards to another state law case. Finally, it uses a third case to weigh possible limitations to dormant Commerce Clause invalidations of laws that restrict content on the Internet. Part V looks at federal regulation of the Internet. The Note concludes in Part VI with details of a third type of regulation, the Internet industry's self-regulation, and earmarks the industry efforts as the best way for regulation to proceed.
Note, Destination Unknown: Does the Internet's Lack of Physical Situs Preclude State and Federal Attempts to Regulate It, 46 Clev. St. L. Rev. 129 (1998)