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Can Egypt's Telecom Giants Be Sued In the US?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the those-phones-really-tied-the-room-together dept.

The Courts 105

bedouin writes "In April, the Egyptian Centre for Housing Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of other plaintiffs against the three telecommunications companies (and a number of current and former Egyptian officials) seeking compensation for the damages they suffered due to the shutdown of communications. The case is ongoing. An interesting question is whether any of these companies could also be sued in US courts."

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Maybe but that isn't the point (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237006)

Let's say for the sake of argument that they could be sued in a US court. If the judgement goes against them how would it be enforced? It seems like the court would either have to go after their US assets or ask the government to use some kind of sanctions against Egypt to get the cash.

Let's say there are no US assets so the latter option is the only one available. Should the US be using international trade sanctions to enforce its own laws in other countries? Imagine the uproar if China decided to enforce some of its laws in the US with sanctions.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237044)

One of the companies is Vodafone, who own 45% of Verizon, so there are plenty of US assets to get hold of.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237490)

Thus damaging the other 55% for every dollar seized...

wait.. they might sue you or that !

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36238576)

Likely Vodafone is legally separated from Verizon for just such a purpose. The US government seizing Verizon's assets would result in years long court cases and a black eye for the Obama administration. They are not going to fight such a case just because Vodafone shut off service in a foreign country. Fail.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238596)

Yes, but Vodafone's Verizon shares could be seized without impacting Verizon itself.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36247508)

Yes, but Vodafone's Verizon shares could be seized without impacting Verizon itself.

You must not know how shares work. Who would gain control of those shares? The government? A private party? Would they just be sold for cash value? Either situation would directly affect Verizon and be logistically challenging.

Why the hell is anybody even contemplating suing a foreign company for things they did in a foreign country in domestic courts? The notion of such a thing is simply retarded.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#36248208)

I agree about it being the wrong jurisdiction, however Verizon shares are quoted on the New York Stock Exchange, and there will be lots of small shareholders having their shares as part of asset recovery orders all the time. All it means for Verizon is a new entry in the shareholders register and they have to send their dividend checks to a different person.

What happens is, whoever sued Vodafone would, if they won the case, be awarded a sum of money. I don't have an opinion on whether they would win the case or not. If Vodafone didn't pay up, then they could get an asset recovery order. If they went for the Verizon shares, they would be given them, and could either keep or sell them on the stock exchange as they wish.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36248204)

One of the companies is Vodafone, who own 45% of Verizon, so there are plenty of US assets to get hold of.

Doesn't that just mean the US govt now has a vested interest in protecting them. It's not like they are a non-US telco like Singtel or Hutchinson.

They can (4, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237054)

As provided by TFA, the Alien’s Action for Tort [cornell.edu] is the relevent statute and states

The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.

There's some decent caselaw and precedent if anyone's intersted - Wiki has a little summary [wikipedia.org] that shouldn't take too long to browse through. Long story short, it's certainly possible but there are some pretty high barriers to use (see specifically the ruling in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum [ed.ac.uk] [pdf]). It's a lot easier if its person on person, moreso if one of those is physically in the US, but it extends to corporations and non-residents as well.

Re:They can (0)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237224)

This is slashdot, please form your comments in a rant against America, or against Arabs, or at the very least, against the American legal system. ;)

That said, it would seem that the Egyptians can and should handle their problems in their own courts. They are, after all, trying to create a new system of government. If they can't obtain justice with their own judicial system, there is no hope for a democratic government there.

Re:They can (3, Insightful)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237306)

Obtaining justice in their own system is likely to be really, really hard. I don't know for certain but I would imagine that in Egyptian Law the telecom companies would be able to successfully argue that they were merely following governmental orders, and the government will claim some kind of perogative to act - probably grounded in some kind of martial law rights. The problem is that the law as it stood both reflected and enable a specifically ordered power structure - the law would give deference to the government in many areas.

So you're stuck with the hope that the law would be adapted, a process that takes a lot of time and negotiation, and protections for civil society added. Problem - a lot of states forbid ex post facto prosecution. Egypt is a signatory to the Arab Charter on Human Rights which specifically states [umn.edu] that

o crime and no penalty can be established without a prior provision of the law. In all circumstances, the law most favorable to the defendant shall be applied.

. So the only option is likely to be appeals to international courts. Using the courts as they stand in Egypt is likely to be futile at present, and in the future they'll be unable to claim for injuries suffered prior to the adoption of new laws. It's a difficult situation to be in.

Moreover, there's a lot of reasons to make an international case here - and most of them are rooted in good ol' money and politics.

Re:They can (2)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237424)

Obtaining justice in their own system is likely to be really, really hard

And that differs from the American system how?

Re:They can (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237916)

At least in the US system, the government can give orders (such as safety standards) and if you meet them, you have zero liability shielding from that act. There have been a few cases where meeting the standards made something less safe than not (first generation airbags being one example) and using the defense "but I had to to meet the government requirements" isn't acceptable. Not that the net effect is any better, but a governmental order with regards to doing something doesn't absolve that party of their responsibility.

Re:They can (0)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238164)

Yes obtaining justice in their own system is really, really hard but if they are not able to over come their own problems by themselves why should anyone else be burdened by their failures? It's all fine and dandy manning the barricades, shouting slogans, and firing AK-47's into the air but after the fun is over the hard part starts. It seems to me that all the revolutionaries in the world would be better served if they actually had a plan on what to do after they finish bringing down the system. If the protesters don't have a plan you can rest assured that other segments of their society do and they are usually worse than the leaders they have just booted. Just ask the Iranian student leaders in 1980 what happens when you take your eye off the ball. If they hadn't been so concerned with poking the US in the eye with the hostage standoff the mullahs would not have had the time to organize the real takeover. I have yet to see any indication of social progress being made in any of the countries under going upheavals in the middle east. No new policies put forward to address the economy, elections, employment issues, or even basic civil rights. All you hear about are lawsuits and criminal prosecutions of the fallen regime leadership figures and parties which do nothing but increase animosity and internal conflict which in turn does nothing but prolong the misery. Sometimes the easiest way to move forward is to let go of retribution and hatred and just move forward. There is always time to revisit the wrongs of the past after things get put back on track. If the people wanting change in the middle east can not put their hatred on the back burner and move forward they never will succeed in creating a better life for themselves.

Re:They can (1)

Xeranar (2029624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36239030)

Martial Law doesn't exist. This is a weird concept that seems to flow from too many movies is that the government can establish military rule at will. The problem is in the US is that it cannot supersede the constitution which means every time it has been enforced it has been a crime in itself. The military can come in and act as the police force to establish the supremacy of law again but they can't suspend law (atleast in the US). I absolutely think President Lincoln was a great president for the record but his suspension of habeus corpus was a crime. I'm not 100% sure on Egyptian rights but most western societies don't allow for this excuse. Under a new regime it will depend on how well the telecoms act that will determine most likely whether or not they gain the protection of the new government.

As for Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, the real issue will be to prove that Verizon Wireless and their parent company Verizon Communications had a direct hand in the Egyptian shutdown. Since the shell ownership deal is a rather loose game to play (Vodafone is a partner to Verizon Wireless while Verizon Communications is effectively Verizon Wireless) they could be found at fault by being Vodafone. They could arguably establish that Verizon Wireless has no true control over it's own actions and is a subsidiary of Vodafone and thus is open to being sued regardless. This would not be a black eye for the Obama administration as it would be for Verizon in general. If anything it would bludgeon more right-wing opponents due to Verizon's heavy ties to the pro-business wing of the republican party.

Re:They can (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246150)

There is a big difference in seeking justice in an American court, and an international court. I would think that attempting to seek justice in any way in an American court would make it look like we are imposing our laws on them. An international court, however, would be a proper venue under the current situation, if their courts could not handle the case for whatever reason.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237080)

We would have to go to war, it's the only sensible thing to do in that case, or most others.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (4, Informative)

cbope (130292) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237172)

Should the US be using international trade sanctions to enforce its own laws in other countries?

Too late, the US has been doing this for some time. How do you think the rash of DMCA-like laws have been forced on other countries in recent years? Where I live, file sharing of even of copyrighted works among friends was not illegal (no profit motive) until the US forced DMCA-like laws to be adopted by our government. It was surely not the population who voted this into law and made a large percentage of the population criminal overnight. As an American ex-pat living abroad, this brings me no small amount of shame.

Understatement of the half-century. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238368)

... the US has been doing this for some time. How do you think the rash of DMCA-like laws

The example is quite an understatement of the time frame, too. Two words: "Cuba embargo". Five more: "Letters of Marque and Reprisal."

Egypt is no stranger to this. One of the first actions projecting US laws abroad, under Jefferson, was the military attack on the Barbary "Pirates" - who in turn had been acting as tax collectors enforcing a claim to sovereignty over the waters around the Straits of Gibraltar and a demand for tolls, individual or in block from the government of the ship's country of registry, for passage. (This is the origin of the line "to the shores of Tripoli" in the Marine Hymn.)

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238456)

It is a strange world indeed when China is leading the way on defying US intellectual property tyranny. I just hope they don't cave in.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36238514)

USA: "Remove your farming subsidies and import tariffs, they are barriers to free trade! (meaning our stuff is costing more than your local stuff)

Other Country: "OK. Your food exports have flooded our markets, ruining our local farmers. turning them to cash crops instead of food, making us far too dependant on you. Now it's your turn to remove the same barriers to our exports."

USA: "We can't do that, it's un-American! We need to think of our own farmers! etc."

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (4, Interesting)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237330)

Well USA has been enforcing its laws, demands, fancies on other countries for plenty of time. As per new American vision, national sovereignty of other countries means zilch. American citizens can go and illegally spy in other countries, murder innocents and can get accorded diplomatic immunity after the fact and officially get away by throwing some cash around.

Even diplomatic immunity and Geneva convention is being abandoned. Torture is acceptable. Diplomats and their families can be strip-searched, arrested and humiliated if US thinks that there will be no retaliation. Here is just the latest example :
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/diplo_daughter_keyed_up_kgp3ZqKcEx9nVwPoD9g0aM [nypost.com]

Apparently American murderers and rapists(check out Okinawa American base in Japan) can get away scott-free, while US authorities decide as per need, whether diplomatic immunity laws do or do not apply, irrespective of International laws and norms.

Mod me flamebait or troll, if you will. But USA has *always* had a superiority complex and believes even its murderers and rapists are sacrosanct. Even in rare cases, when they allowed prosecution, some kind of deal for a compromise has always been worked out. Only place where US chooses to comply to the international laws is where it feels there is a lot at risk or if it can get its ass royally kicked(i.e. in China for example, where USA military might means naught).

And yep, thanks to the internet and US-propelled globalisation, everyone has US assets or eventually will. Paypal happily freezes accounts of whoever the USA government does not likes. Everyone has a Visa or MasterCard these days. And with US based banks operating in almost all the countries, similar pressure can get eventually employed to force the foreign branches of say Citibank to freeze even accounts that are not in USA. It totally depends on whether or not, your government can stand up to the USA.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237950)

You know you post this as if this is unique to the U.S.. The only difference between the U.S. doing this and most other countries is that the U.S. is able to make it stick in more places than most other countries.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238238)

Well bingo! Apparently being a habitual offender does makes a BIG difference in courts as opposed to there being a rare first offense(I will skip the debate about "But everyone would do it, if they were powerful like us! Really! So that makes it okay to be a bully!"). If some US court clerk declared countries to be person too like corporations, you will find that as per the USA laws, repeat offenders are considered as a more serious threat to the world.

That, and no other country pretends that it owns the rest of the world and that its law apply to all of the world.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238358)

There are several countries that have "universal jurisdiction" laws on their books. So, yes, there are other countries that pretend that their law applies to all of the world.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36248620)

And yet none of them go around actually kidnapping citizens of foreign countries, instead of either waiting for them to enter their borders or instead of trying to extradite them!

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36248672)

You go right on believing that.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238320)

And since you missed the point, it is about USA insisting that it can interfere with any country's sovereignty and sue in its courts, even foreigners for crimes that do not involve USA in any way. Which other major country does this? And if human rights are so important to you, why not uphold the basic human right of all : Life. Why did USA not allow Ray Davis to be prosecuted for what was clear murder then?

This is less about Justice or Human rights and more about power play. It is stupid to expect that any company can actually stand up to an all-powerful government. Take a look at your own paypal and yahoo and microsoft. And we are talking about an actual dictatorship in Egypt.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238420)

There are several countries which explicitly state that they can prosecute anyone for crimes committed anywhere in the world. It is known as "universal jurisdiction". Your point seemed to be that somehow the U.S. was uniquely evil for using its power to defend its government's interests (and sometimes just that of well connected individuals) in foreign countries and that is just not true. Every nation does that to the extent that it is able.
I am not convinced that what Ray Davis did in Pakistan was "clear murder". Considering that he was in all likelihood in Pakistan looking for Al-Qaeda members being hidden there by Pakistan's ISI (up to and including Usama Bin Laden), there is no reason to trust the "witnesses".

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36248612)

Do you have any proof that Ray Davis was authorized/permitted by the Pakistan Government to "look for Al-Qaeda members"? You are simply proving my point.

Universal Jurisdiction is indeed claimed by several countries regarding crimes against humanity and has been actually practiced by almost none of the other countries due to the establishment of ICC. Belgium for example, has such a law but limits it to a Belgium citizen or someone present in Belgium being involved. Same goes for most of the other countries. Only and ONLY the USA has the dubious honor of thinking that this implies that they can arrange to illegally kidnap citizens from other countries to prosecute them(even if there was no real evidence against the kidnapped person). Draw your own conclusions.

There are certain things called treaties. Any civilized nation is supposed to respect the international norms and honor them. It means that you first try to use the extradition treaties to get your hands on the so-called criminal. If you think there was a major crime that cannot be prosecuted otherwise, you goto the ICC. And you can of course go ahead with the case, but actually arrest the guy only when he enters your borders. And no, this does not means sending a Death-squad or assassins to his home country to kill him, or kidnapping him to ensure that he can be arrested within your borders.

If you wish for your sovereignty to be respected, you have to accord others the same respect. Unless of course, you are completely fine with the Chinese dragging off some of your citizens/officials for some so-called "crimes" from your borders. It is only a matter of time, before the boot is on the other foot.

Or if you are trying to tell me that might is right, and therefore USA has some kind of right to do whatever it wishes, well, the Al-Qaeda seemed to have lots of so-called might as well on 911. I take it that you are okay with that too?

And USA is uniquely evil for trying to preach "do as i say, and not as I do". If you are so hung up on dispensing justice worldwide, you should allow your own rapists and murderers to be prosecuted by other countries as well. Ray davis may or may not have been looking for Al-Qaeda, but is that any reason to go around murdering people on mere suspicion? And what is your excuse for rapist US soldiers in Japan? They were trying to find Al-Qaeda members too in Japan? Pathetic!

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36240274)

"Which other major country does this? "

Various European countries like to think their laws apply to US companies and web sites.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#36239726)

Apparently American murderers and rapists(check out Okinawa American base in Japan) can get away scott-free, while US authorities decide as per need, whether diplomatic immunity laws do or do not apply, irrespective of International laws and norms.

All laws are either backed by force or meaningless. As the US is the closest to a world policeman, laws are what it says they are - and since it's corrupt, the laws are also applied corruptly.

The international stage is currently as individual countries used to be, and many still are: ruled by whoever holds the most firepower at the moment. This might change some day, just like it did for many countries, but that would require establishing an international body with a monopoly on violence - a World Government capable of enforcing its laws. And that has huge risks; in history, governments without competition have usually stalled in their development.

But, for now, America acts as it pleases, and every other nation would in its position.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237456)

How would you feel, if we'd meddle with your country?

Like invade the USA because of the war crimes of Bush? Or even invade the USA because of the drug cartels of Mexico, and then let one of our companies steal your resources? Pull a head shot on Cheney, and throw him in the water? Sue Haiburton, Monsanto, Eli Lilly, etc? Throw US citizens who live here in our jails, because they looked fat and used English words, and then take pictures of them naked and torture them?

All completely legitimate actions, by your standards.
Except for the drug cartel / resources thing and the jails thing, all completely OK, when done by the country itself.
All never ever OK, but actually crimes against humanity, and reasons to go to war, when done by a foreign countries.

How fuckin' full of themselves can one country be? Ego trip much?
PROTIP: The world is not made out of US states, no matter how much you think it is. And no matter how much you bully and rape other countries, most of us don't give a fuck about what you think about us.
We solve our own problems. Like we already did, before we even found the land you're living on.

How about you fix your own industrial feudalism disguised as a democracy and you opinion-maker-controlled cattle people problems first?

I swear, if another country ever becomes more powerful than you, you're in for a buttload of pain...

So please... we all want you to become a good country!

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (0)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237956)

Feel free to invade the U.S.. I think you will find the consequences unpleasant.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36248630)

One word. 911. And consequences for Americans are still not yet over thanks to that. So much for your arrogance.

Re:Maybe but that isn't the point (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#36248664)

Ask the Taliban, or better yet, Osama Bin Laden how that worked out for them.

World Police (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237012)

nt.

Uh, maybe? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237014)

In the US, you can file a suit against almost anybody. But that's not the same as actually winning it. If you have no legal standing or the suit does not involve a breach of US civil law, then you can lose, even if the defendant does not bother to show up.

See Twitter (1)

BodeNGE (1664379) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237018)

As in the superinjunction furore regarding wether they can be sued in the USA for "laws" broken in the UK.

what a load of bullshit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237028)

fuck those niggers

Re:what a load of bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237302)

which ones?

how about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237034)

How about out of your jurisdiction. What is it with Americans that they think they need to police the world.
I can understand suing of Vodaphone or any of the parent companies. Suing for human rights violations, that I could somewhat agree with.
But seriously, loosing your phone and internet connectivity does not limit your freedom of speech in any way, in my not so humble opinion.

Re:how about (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237114)

telecom companies knowingly participated in a campaign designed to inhibit and deny Egyptians the freedom to associate and organize and even more egregiously a terror campaign that included torture and extrajudicial killing

Re:how about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237766)

So when the fuck is the USA Govt going to get it's ass sued for doing all that and worse?

Re:how about (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238716)

So when the fuck is the USA Govt going to get it's ass sued for doing all that and worse?

In US courts? Probably never.

The Constitution includes a provision that the US can't be sued in its own courts unless it consents to be, either on a case-by-case basis or a law waiving immunity in advance. Such laws have only been passed with respect to suits over contracts with the US government and torts committed by US employees. (And the "tort" exception doesn't stretch that far.)

Re:how about (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36239320)

What is it with Americans that they think they need to police the world.
As an American I can tell you that I would much prefer that we didn't because I am sick of them sucking all of the money out of my pocket to fund all this crap. Unfortunately, it's damned if you do, damned if you don't because there were plenty of people asking why the U.S. wouldn't get involved back when we were isolationist.

Connected (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237040)

The idea that someone committing an act in one country, with effects within that country, can then be sued in another... it's patently ridiculous.

However we are clearly getting into a situation where the world is seriously interconnected (a good thing!) but legal codes and presumed jurisdictions overlap in all sorts of ways.

We either need an international legal code to sort this stuff out, or for countries to stop claiming jurisdiction outside of their own boundaries (except where it concerns actions perpetrated by their own citizens, with consequences to be faced when they return to their native soil)

Re:Connected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237056)

Like for certain military action in Pakistan perhaps?

Re:Connected (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237068)

Well, that one's tricky. I certainly wouldn't want to have stopped that particular action, the scumbag should have been put out of his misery some time ago.

OTOH it's not clear what the legal basis of the action was, and fuzzy, handwaving arguments about being at war don't cut it for me either.

meh. Maybe I don't care, after all.

Re:Connected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237104)

Erm, corporate personhood was granted in the 1800's and as such corporation's are almost deemed the same rights of a citizen, except for that of voting, however yet, the individual members of said corporation are free to vote, perchance with a slight influence. Nevertheless, since then, they've fully enjoyed the legal status and protections which were originally created for human beings. Thus I'd say it's high time that somebody gets the accountability ball rolling. For what? In this case, loss of profit immediately jumps to mind.

Re:Connected (1)

SilasMortimer (1612867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237402)

Corporate personhood was never actually granted. It was denied and then the clerk of the court (a relative of a railroad baron (hint: the corporation in the case was a railroad)) wrote that corporations are persons in the header notes. What happened? Nobody actually reads all these cases, they look at the header notes for a summary. Thus, our judicial branch of government has made legal decisions based on the opinion of a clerk not otherwise involved in the case.

Doesn't matter, though, because the clerk's fabricated precedent only applies to corporations in the United States. I anal... I mean, IANAL, but it seems obvious that a "person" that doesn't exist elsewhere can't be sued here, especially if they also don't exist here. Unless, maybe, the post office delivers thousands of bits of mail to the courtroom and proves that there really is such a person after all. There was a precedent for that way back in Virginia, involving New York. Or in New York, involving Virginia. I think it was Burl Ives that didn't exist.

Anyway, this is a stupid idea and will never happen, but I support the thought behind it.

Re:Connected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237108)

I believe the US (and many other countries) refuse the notion of an international court that could deal with exactly these kind of issues.
  So, time to start calling the people you've elected.

Re:Connected (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237132)

The idea that someone committing an act in one country, with effects within that country, can then be sued in another... it's patently ridiculous.

Not really, in a lot of European countries you can get prosecuted for having sex with a minor overseas, altough:
1) It's an act commited overseas.
2) The effects of the act stay overseas.
3) The act itself might not have been illegal overseas*

(* If you come from a country that 18 as "age of consent" you're still not allowed to have a sex with a 14 year old even if in that country the "age of consent" would be 14)

So, the rules are not entirely ridiculous.
As a citizen you're supposed to follow the rules of AND your own country AND the country you visit, whichever is more restrictive. That also goes for companies with overseas departments (which is the claim in this case)

Re:Connected (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237236)

Oh sure, why I added the exception - "(except where it concerns actions perpetrated by their own citizens, with consequences to be faced when they return to their native soil)"

But I'm not sure that's a useful principle beyond heinous crimes. For instance - what about a tourist visiting amsterdam, who smokes up a little when there, and returns home?

Re:Connected (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237536)

The way I understand it, it's not illegal to get high, it's illegal to grow, own, sell, give to minors or operate heavy machinery. If it was illegal to get high every failed company drug test would be followed by a trip to jail.

Re:Connected (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36246878)

I suppose that's why people caught on drugs don't always get charged with anything - if they don't still have the substance about their person then there's no proof they were ever in possession.

Re:Connected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237152)

The US regularly demands the extradition of UK citizens (and quite often our leaders roll over and ask if they should be gift wrapped) for commuting 'crimes' that are illegal in the US but not in the UK. For example posting chemicals to the US from the UK, chemicals which are perfectly legal to buy and sell here results in UK citizen being put in some weird legal limbo while it is decided if that person should be extradited to face charges and imprisonment in the US. Crazy...

Re:Connected (2)

stiggle (649614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237776)

There is an international criminal court - just the US hasn't signed up to it and during the Bush presidency threatened violence to anyone who pulls a US citizen in front of the court.

http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ASP/states+parties/ [icc-cpi.int]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Court [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_and_the_International_Criminal_Court [wikipedia.org]

Of course they can... (2)

muffen (321442) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237062)

Remember Dmitry Sklyarov [wikimedia.org] ?

I hate this "lowest common denominator" law thing (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237072)

It seems that people can be sued in the US when a win is easiest there, or sued in the UK over libel if there is chance that someone in the UK read it. What's next - someone suing a wife for adultery in an Iranian court because they want a death sentence!

Re:I hate this "lowest common denominator" law thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237184)

Also, US citizens appear to escape whatever penalty (they are never extradited), while non-us citizens are hunted down in foreign countries. (And i'm not talking about Osama, who got what he bought).

Re:I hate this "lowest common denominator" law thi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237866)

suing a wife for adultery in an Iranian court because they want a death sentence!

Good idea !

Re:I hate this "lowest common denominator" law thi (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238786)

What's next - someone suing a wife for adultery in an Iranian court because they want a death sentence!

As I understand it, conviction for adultery under Islamic law requires several witnesses to the act.

Now I know there are people in the US who think that, if their wives had sex with someone else in front of an audience they'd deserve the death penalty ...

Re:I hate this "lowest common denominator" law thi (1)

RadiantPhoenix (2029232) | more than 3 years ago | (#36244850)

"Why didn't you involve me in your porn production?"

Blah. (2, Insightful)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237096)

This is just "activists" taking the easiest path instead of a path that's actually challenging. It's easy to sue anyone in America, and the insane American legal system is feared worldwide.

Let's put the shoe on the other foot, shall we? Suppose you received a summons from the Intermediate People's Court of Zhengjiang County, China. A Chinese person is suing you because you supplied parts that were assembled into buses that police used to arrive at the scene of a civil disturbance, where the plaintiff was unlawfully injured (by unlawfully, I mean under Chinese law). Suing the local government is right out, so they sued you instead. What would you say to this? (A) Oh boy, this is serious, I had better go to this country, hire a lawyer, and spend a couple of months in-country fighting these charges to clear my name. (B) What the hell authority does some foreign court have over me? I've never been there and I'm never going there.

Oh, and if an American company had refused to comply with the cutoff order, it would be cultural imperialism and interfering with the internal affairs of another country. We can't impose our (false) values of "freedom" on other cultures, remember?

Re:Blah. (3, Insightful)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237362)

There is a bigger picture involved.

During the Egyptian revolution the telecom companies, instead of supporting the people, complied with and acted upon the requests of a tyrannical leader to shut down internet access, in an attempt to silence the people. [1]

They also complied to send out pro-government, anti-democracy [2] mobile text messages [3].

Don't buy Vodafone's excuse, they abide to a mad man's "emergency laws", while the people and journalists risked life and limb to have their voice heard. Vodafone agreed to his terms, a guy who is now facing the death penalty under charge or premeditated murder against civilians[5], and need to grow a pair.

And do you know why?
"Its not clear who paid for the messages which could amount to hundred of thousands of dollars worth of messaging."

[1] http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/01/2011128796164380.html [aljazeera.net]
[2] http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=133349 [businessday.co.za]
[3] http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/02/03/unsolicited-pro-mubarak-text-messages-from-egypt/ [liberalconspiracy.org]
[4] http://www.renesys.com/blog/2011/01/egypt-leaves-the-internet.shtml [renesys.com]
[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/24/us-egypt-mubarak-idUSTRE74N3LG20110524 [reuters.com]

Re:Blah. (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237558)

During the Egyptian revolution the telecom companies, instead of supporting the people, complied with and acted upon the requests of a tyrannical, internationally recognized as leader to shut down internet access, in an attempt to silence the people. [1]

There, fixed that for you....

As tyranical, evil, mass murdered as he could ever be, he was the one in charge. If by giving these orders he overstepped his powers and broke Egyptian laws, then Egyptians courts should try him(*). If the phone companies broke Egyptian laws by doing so, then an Egyptian court must decide about it.

The conclussion of your reasonement is that companies that operate in America must apply American laws and disregard local laws elsewhere?

"Its not clear who paid for the messages which could amount to hundred of thousands of dollars worth of messaging."

The fact that you would have to pay so much money in order to send those messages does not mean that it does cost that. Remember when SMS were free?

(*)Yes, even dictatures have laws and can break them. The main differences are that A) if they do not suit them they can change it really quickly and without explanaition and B) that if they break them nobody will be able to complain. See kidnapping of kids by the Military Junta of Argentina if you need an example about this.

Re:Blah. (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#36247952)

My conclusion is not about which laws should be enforced where. It is about how the people should stand together, whether they be civilians, small business owners or large telecom companies.

The country was upset when the guys in high corporate positions abandoned their civil duty to the people. The lawsuits are a repercussion of the events. I talked about the cause.

Sorry SMS were never free, I live in a third world country :(

Good arguments :)

Re:Blah. (1)

floydman (179924) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237586)

Wish I had modpoints for you

Re:Blah. (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238934)

First a big fat disclaimer to avoid ad-hominem attacks: I fully support the transition for a Democracy in Egypt and only wish it happened in more places.

That said, at some points your post reads like propaganda:
- "instead of supporting the people"
- "complied with and acted upon the requests of a tyrannical leader"
- "in an attempt to silence the people"
(emphasis mine)

It reminds me of the kind of words that could be heard in a number of "revolutionary" cleanups like those in Mao-Tse Tung's China and Stalin's Russia were people were killed for "sidding with a tyrannical leader", "attempting to silence the people" and other such accusations of lack of "revolutionary zeal".

No matter how much you believe the righteousness of your cause, beware of falling into emotion-appealing cliches.

As for Vodafone:

Until Mubarak fell, from the point of view of any company working in Egypt, Mubarak was the leader of that nation and what he said was what they had to do.

It's not up to foreigners to take political sides in a revolution in a country, more so with companies. If they operate in a country, as long as the law of the land says they must "do X", then they have to "do X".

The best you can expect is that the local employees of the company (who were likelly Egiptions, lived and worked in Egypt and actually might had an opinion on this) might be exceptionally slow in doing what Mubarak ordered from them while headquarters studiously ignored their unusual slowness in complying with Mubarak's orders.

handbook for multinationals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36239372)

Those last two sentences should be included (along with a ton of other stuff) in an instruction booklet for companies operating in multiple nationalities.

Re:Blah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36242032)

During the Egyptian revolution the telecom companies, instead of supporting the people, complied with and acted upon the requests of a tyrannical leader to shut down internet access, in an attempt to silence the people.

Why the fuck would companies support people? Why would they support government? The DO NOT! Companies support their best interests and that generally means listening to people with guns and people with the laws. And if companies don't like it, then companies can get the fuck out or are forced out. Period.

Internet was shutdown because government told it to. And now having no internet access is life threatening? FFS! 20 years ago there was no Internet? How did they live? How did they live??!?

Egypt is seriously fucked up if they are looking to blame an ISP for shutting down Internet because the government+police told them to do it or else. Companies are not there to wage your battles.

The people themselves should grow a pair. They think they can blame someone else for their problems. Well, it doesn't work that way. Simply pushing out current regime in Egypt will not make it better - that requires actual work.

Re:Blah. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237552)

That's the thing about multi-national corporations. They "live" in every country they have an office in. If said person in your example had a vacation home in China, you could bet your ass they'd lawyer up or face a loss of wealth.

So your example really isn't equivocal to the situation in TFA.

of course they can! (1)

thephydes (727739) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237134)

As a non-US resident it seems from reports here on slashdot and other places, that anyone can be sued for anything in the US, regardless of merit, so I would not be at all surprised to see it happen.

no (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237154)

US telecoms can't be sued in the US, what makes you think Egyptian ones can?

Re:no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237288)

Simply, because these are _not_ US telecoms.

Re:no (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237304)

US telecoms can't be sued in the US, what makes you think Egyptian ones can?

Because they are not US companies and therefore don't have a lobby.

Re:no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237516)

Well, so long as US companies can be sued in Egypt, under Egyptian law, I would imagine Egypt would allow the converse.

Re:no (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238998)

Actually, US telecoms get sued in the US and sometimes lose.

They even get sued by the government. That's how AT&T got broken up in the first place. (What's now called AT&T is one of the kids born from the lawsuit, which ate what was left of the mother and several of its siblings. Though perhaps a more graphic analogy would be the reconstitution of Terminator II from the merger of most of its shattered pieces.)

But the US telecoms mostly win because the laws are very much in their favor and thus easy and profitable for them to follow - or to settle out of court before it comes to trial.

You are a spiv (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237182)

I would say no, you scum sucking money grabber. Trying to profit from a revolution in the third world by suing whats left in Egypt is pretty low.

You disgust me, you miserable (barely) human being.

Re:You are a spiv (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238248)

I am conflicted. I do find it "low" to be suing companies from a country that just experience a revolution, but then again, these companies listened to their government to shutdown the internet. But again, as much as I loath them shutting down the intarweb, they were just following orders. I still would enjoy Verizon taking a hit, but allowing a suit out of spite isn't the way to go.

If someone should be sued, it should be the prior government of Egypt.

Please, please, let this lawsuit go through! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237238)

Let this go through, and get it on record. As soon as the final gavel slams down; the U.S. companies that screwed the world will be under lawsuits all over the planet. Hopefully it is a country with extradition, so they can come get the U.S. CEOs and lock them up for their crimes against the world. I can't wait for the head of Goldman Sachs to get sent to a prison somewhere for what they did to the world economy.

americans and arabs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237250)

niggers, the whole lot of them

Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237264)

Is there any other countries in the world where a seemingly large part of the citizens are arrogant enough to believe that their laws apply everywhere else in the world?

Re:Question (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36239066)

No. And if there were, we'd bomb them.

Frustration of Contract (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237272)

Surely being directed by a Government to shut down communication services frustrates contracts to supply communication services. Torts seem no better.

it works in canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237348)

wind mobile (orascom) is in a battle with the crtc and the canadian government on whether they can continue to operate in canada...

honestly, what are they supposed to do? they get the OK to build the infrastructure, amass customers, but then robellus teams up and convinces the crtc that wind mobile can't operate here... talk about being anti-competitive. and what about the end users? are they supposed to go back to robellus?

bullys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237486)

Y would the usa get involved? It has nothing to do with them...

stupid americans (0)

NoWinNoFeeLayers (2197850) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237496)

why do they think they can get involved in everybody elses business?

Re:stupid americans (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237720)

Because, unlike you, they can and do read the summaries.

Oh, OK, they don't read them either, but I bet they could!

Americans are not the ones suing.

USA World Police (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237500)

Of course they can, the US do whatever they fucking want. It's as if the world is theirs to rule to them.

Re:USA World Police (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36237906)

Well the real problem here is mostly that after Iraq, they still can't seem to understand being the World Police doesn't work.
This level of stupidity is just unbelievable, but I guess you can always count on the USA to do the impossible....

WTF? (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237510)

What should they have done? They've done wrong if they participated in interception for the regime, but I don't see what good ignoring an order to shut down would do. Vodafone doesn't have any soldiers; Mubarak could perfectly well have shut it down himself by cutting power or having their equipment blown up.

Depends (1)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 3 years ago | (#36237566)

Pretty sure this would depend on of the person suing was an American who was directly affected by Egypt's telecoms. Then it would really only be enforcable if the company had a US presence. Otherwise, I imagine that the case would be dismissed.

Force Majeure (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36238256)

Two words - Force Majeure - so that covers war, rioting, insurrection.

Secondly, a telecoms company in any country is obliged to follow the direction of the FCC or similar in their country. If they get a suspension order from the government, they have to suspend operation.

The Government of Egypt demanded a suspension of service, the telco's had no option but to suspend or be in violation of their license terms

no (1)

Nihn (1863500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36238502)

us courts apply only to us citizens. there is an absolute reason why people from other countries are sent back home to face court. egypt has their own system, let them deal with it.

Re:no (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 3 years ago | (#36239294)

Wrong in many ways.

US Courts deal with any crime in the United States. However, merely being outside the US territory doesn't totally removal all US control over US citizens. So US citizens (or corporations) can be sued for violating the (very small set of) laws that apply regards of locality to US citizens, in US courts.

Also, Egypt does not really have their own system. I mean, a revolution kinda took place. I mean you can have ex post facto laws or a kangaroo court to deal with the supports of the old regime, but...

Re:no (1)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 3 years ago | (#36248746)

International Criminal Court was established for a reason. If USA was that concerned it would do far more good improving THAT, instead of interfering with other countries. I mean, unless you were okay with some Chinese official filing a trivial suit against you in China in your absence, winning the case since you were not willing to go over and defend yourself, and then perhaps even getting you kidnapped either from USA or some china-friendly country you were traveling in.

Before you go red with rage, this is exactly what USA usually does.

perhaps not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36238628)

perhaps not.. but they can always be bombed :)

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