Pick a Jurisdiction

Don’t like the rules in your country – move to another one! It does all seem rather obvious. The operators of http://www.baggygreen.com.au/ “The Official Home of Australian Cricket” have move its hosting to the UK. Who runs it? ninemsn – Kerry Packer and Microsoft. ninemsn says “the UK move was carried out for performance reasons”. Pity nobody told the current host – Hostworks in Adelaide. Hostworks says “None of the discussions we’ve had with them have involved performance”. Which is understandable. Hostworks is one of the largest hosters in the country, and looks after all the other ninemsn sites, none of which are moving.

The Australian newspaper today is quoting sources as saying “ninemsn wanted to avoid the risk of being involved with an illegal operation after being contacted by the AFP”.

Why was ninemsn contacted by the Federal Police? Because of complaints about Baggy Green running online gambling advertisements had been referred to the police by the Department of Communications, IT and the Arts.

Who’s tried an online gambling business in Australia? Kerry Packer. Except, because Australian laws prevent online gambling, he based his site offshore in Vanuatu. He did close it in May 2003, after a reported $5.6 million loss.

All this highlights is how easy it is for businesses to simply ignore the rules in any particular country. If they don’t like the regieme in one jurisdiction, they simply move operations to another, taking advantage of local conditions.

And no this is not a symptom of the internet. Businesses have always sought to exploit local conditions, whether it’s as benign as locating call centres off short in India, or more pragmatic, like McDonalds continuing to use foam packaging in any country where environment laws aren’t so strict, or chemical manufacturers shifting plants to third world countries where local authorities turn a blind eye to the side effects.

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