The substantive law, as identified in the decided cases particularly in the US, indicates to whom a duty is owed. In Private International Law, this may cause significant problems for the courts where legislation in one country is not mirrored in another. For example, laws defining pornographic material vary widely, being significantly different from one country to another.
This was part of the lecture series World Cyberspace Law.
Many states are apprehensive that wider access to information will threaten to decentralise their effective authority. States that attempt unilaterally to assert command and control regulation, in an attempt to ensure the vivisection of cyberlife, will not serve global justice but instead participate in the conflict of law. Professor Wakefield argues that imposing restraining laws expressly within geographic borders will destroy the socially beneficial uses of the Internet, and will instead create islands of ignorance.
Gerald Wakefield was the Gresham Professor of Law between 1998 and 2000.
Professor Wakefield is a leading expert in international telecoms law and regulation and electronic technology law.
Upon his appointment to the Law professorship in 1998 he wrote the following:
"I am very pleased to be appointed Professor of Law at Gresham College at this time as the area of law in which I have some knowledge, electronic commerce and Internet law, requires significant input from governments, commercial organisations and the informed public. It is a difficult subject which needs more informed debate.
"I have been practising in this area of law in Australia, throughout Asia and more recently in the UK and Europe, and have written many papers on the range of issues associated with the developemnt of the Internet and electronic commerce. I look foward to a lively debate in the lectures, particularly relating to issues such as pornography, defamation, contract at-a-distance, privacy, data protection and the other regulartory and legal issues involved."