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Abstract

Until recently it was considered impossible or at least pointless to attempt to identify the actual geographic location of Internet users in the online environment. However, this is changing and, although extremely accurate geographical identifiers do not exist, more geo-location technologies are used to track the location of the Internet users for a variety of reasons such as fraud detection, authentication, content targeting, security and network efficiency, conditioning access and legal compliance. The article distinguishes between hard protection provided by geo-location technologies and soft protection provided by non-technical means. It then proceeds in presenting and examining the geo-location technologies, sophisticated and unsophisticated, as well as the non-technical means and their application in practice as well as the legal and judicial background nationally and internationally. Finally the article concludes that even though the geo-identification and geo-location technologies available today may not be perfect they are nonetheless unavoidable since the rules of conflicts of laws give web site operators the incentive to discover the location Internet users. This tendency may result in the transformation of the Internet from a relatively borderless environment to a medium where geographical and legal borders do apply and matter similarly to the offline environment.

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