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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 224
January 28, 2006

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Human Rights Advocacy
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Star Law Analysis

Internet exposes a new international space

An analogical study of cyberspace in light of sovereignless character

Md.Morshed Mahmud Khan, Mohammad Osiur Rahman& Mohammad Mahabubur Rahman

Sovereignty is based primarily on geographical borders. The entrance of a political power into the territory of another sovereign without permission could be considered as violation of territorial sovereignty. But now Internet containing Cyberspace crosses the border. So it is difficult for the state to apply territorial authority in it. The state cannot achieve the physical control of cyber activities. Because, these activities are not confined within the territory. These go outside the territory and very often enter into the territory of sovereign state without any physical restrictions. This is really a problem for the state habituated to the territorial-based sovereignty .The underlying causes of the problem are (1) the peculiar structure of the internet; (2) non-physical character of the cyber activities; and (3) everywhere and nowhere location of cyberspace. External aspects of sovereignty indicate a state's freedom from outside influence upon its basic prerogatives. But the omnipresence character of Internet made it accessible from anywhere in the world that deriding international principles --territorial integrity, political independence and domestic affairs. However, still now, national border is the basis for creation and administration of laws. The current system of legal governance is based on the geography of national borders. The states make laws governing citizens, institutions and conducts taking place and having effect, within the defined territory. Although the people who use the Internet are at all times governed by their real-space sovereigns, the sovereignty, or control, of the Internet itself and actions taking place within it remains up in the air that exposes a significant problem for the states familiar with territorial implications, to go on with internet and cyber activities occurred in Internet.

Cyber space: Non- physical architecture placed it outside the sovereign control
Internet is a very much new phenomenon bearing a long heritage of gradual development that took it outside the control of state entailing territorial monopoly. Internet is an interconnected system of networks that connects computers around the world via the TCP/IP protocol and provides a non-physical working place for the users. This place is known as cyberspace. The term “cyberspace” is sometimes treated as a synonym for the Internet, but is really a broader concept. The term cyberspace emphasizes that it can be treated as a place. The United States Supreme Court visualizes cyberspace as a place outside national boundaries. The court indicates that it is a unique medium consisting of certain tools located in no particular geographical location but available to anyone, anywhere in the world; and the users' access to it come out as 'cyberspace' to themselves.

Virtual world of the net: Pouring a citizenship outside the state purview
The world wide web has brought multi-media graphics, animations, sound, and hyperlinking ---to the internet. The virtual world wide web (vwww), with virtual environments, is a further development where users can interact graphically with each other. Typical vwww environments are spread across sites on the net and on a CD-ROM. The basic program run from the CD, but interactions between the users occur at vwww sites.When a user logs on to a virtual world, he or she chooses a graphical identity; this is how they will appear on the other users' screens around the world . These virtual people called as Netizen stroll around and meet in the virtual streets ---although the real users might be thousands of miles apart.

World wide web: A universal document devoid of physical location
Since 1993, the World Wide Web has become one of the fastest growing communication systems in history. Consisting of an expanding pool of pages created by computers, associations, and individuals, it is accessible to any one connected to the Internet. Two features of the web make it appealing. The first is the non-linear method of presenting information known as hypertext . This enables users to jump between documents to subject- related material at the click of mouse . The second is the multimedia format of web pages, which can be designed using sophisticated graphics, sound, and animation, and displayed on-screen by program called a graphical browser. Since the development of the browser, the web has become more sophisticated and easier to use and interest in the www has exploded.

Universal accessibility of virtual tools crosses the border
Access to the Internet is available to users through a wide variety of communication and information retrieval methods. Popular virtual tools like E-mail, mail exploders, newsgroups, chatrooms and the World Wide Web easily transgress national border inconsistent with territorial control of sovereign states. The mechanism, process and technique as used in Internet cause the extra-territorial effects.

Universal access paths to cyber space undermines territorial confines
Access to the Internet is available to users through a wide variety of communication and information retrieval methods. Popular access methods like E-mail, mail exploders, newsgroups, chatrooms and the World Wide Web. A person can enter into the world of net just clicking on the PC having Internet connection bearing some specified software. Internet users can enter into the visual world from anywhere in the world. A Bangladeshi user can enjoy the charms of being in the land of America or other countries. It is definitely sneering at the territoriality of the state. Now the activities of human personalities in the capacity of their citizenship or nationality are not grasped by the territorial monopoly. A significant portion of his time are passed in net world causing some effects of civil, political, economic, social and cultural nature bearing the monetary value not less than the value claimed by the territorial activities of human being...Contd.

This story will be published on three parts.

Md.Morshed Mahmud Khan,Associate Professor,Dept. of Law, University Of Chittagong
Mohammad Osiur Rahman,Assistant Professor,Dept. of CSE,University Of Chittagong
Mohammad Mahabubur Rahman,Lecturer,Dept.of Law,Premier University, Chittagong


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