extraterritorial [English]

Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

adj. (extraterritoriality, n.) ~ Outside the geographic limits of a particular jurisdiction and possibly subject to the laws of another jurisdiction.

General Notes

Questions of extraterritoriality and relevant jurisdictions are significant in the digital era as many online and data storage services may cross national boundaries. If a company located in one country stores data in another, must the company comply with the other country's laws? How would the company resolve potential conflicts in the country's laws regarding the data?

Other Definitions


  • Research Project 10 (TN) - Report (†398 3-4): Extraterritoriality is the “application of one country’s laws to persons, conduct or relationships outside of that country” (Clopton, 2013, p. 217). One of the precepts of extraterritoriality is that of nationality as states can exercise jurisdiction over its nationals, regardless of where the action takes place (Currie & Scassa, 2011). However, data by itself "does not have any nationality but merely inherits the law of the territory in which it is located" (Filippi & Mccarthy, 2012, p.8). Since data can be easily transmitted from one jurisdiction to another, the same bits of information can be subjected to several national laws within a specific moment in time. (†443)
  • Ryngaert 2015 (†879 ): In a virtual world where in a split second data are transferred to and processed in far-flung corners of the world, national regulators may be at loss as to how to ground their jurisdiction. Indeed, due to these spatio-temporal shifts, the principle of territoriality, the traditional cornerstone of the law of jurisdiction, appears to be losing its salience in the field of international data protection. Where data are everywhere and become disconnected from physical territory, extraterritoriality may seem the only viable regulatory option. Unbounded extraterritoriality, however, has serious adverse consequences for both businesses and states. For businesses, regulatory burdens imposed by multiple states might increase transaction costs and legal uncertainty, while vigorous assertions of extraterritorial jurisdiction could cause international competency conflicts between different states, which might have different substantive views on the scope of data protection. (†2641)
  • Ryngaert 2015 (†879 ): The EU Court of Justice's 2014 affirmation of EU data subjects’ ‘right to erasure’ (under certain conditions) with respect to search results generated by US-based search engine Google, and the resulting tug of war over the geographical scope of implementation of the judgment, is one of the most conspicuous examples of the extraterritorial effect of EU data protection law, and the controversy such effect can stir. (†2642)
  • Wikipedia (†387 s.v. "Extraterritoriality"): Extraterritoriality is the state of being exempted from the jurisdiction of local law, usually as the result of diplomatic negotiations. Extraterritoriality can also be applied to physical places, such as foreign embassies, military bases of foreign countries, or offices of the United Nations. The three most common cases recognized today internationally relate to the persons and belongings of foreign heads of state, the persons and belongings of ambassadors and other diplomats, and ships in foreign waters. Extraterritoriality is often extended to friendly or allied militaries, particularly for the purposes of allowing that military to simply pass through one's territory. It is distinguished from personal jurisdiction in the sense that extraterritoriality operates to the prejudice of local jurisdiction. (†444)