Several businesses have publicly accessible websites . Thus don't they operate in every country? Then why are they only concerned about their own country's laws and sometimes GDPR and CCPA? Is it legal? Are they safe? Are their owners being and their assets in their home country safe?


That a company (C) has a website that can be accessed from a given county does not mean that the company operates in that country. If C is located in country A, markets and advertises to country A, offers products designed to appeal in country A, has its site only in the primary language of country A, uses servers located in country A, and has all its assets and physical offices in country A, it is not operating in country X, even if a few people from X do business with C over its web site.

Country X may have laws which claim to apply to C or its web site. It will find it hard to enforce those laws, particularly if owners and officers of X do not travel to X. It will find it hard to extradite anyone for violations of the laws of X unless those actions are also crimes under the laws of A.

If X is a major, powerful country such as the US, the UK, or the EU it may be able to get A to enforce its court orders, or to use its influence over the banking system to impose penalties on C. If X is North Korea, or even Brazil, it is probably out of luck.

Thus the management of C needs worry primarily about the laws of A, and to a lesser extent the laws of major countries that make some effort to enforce their laws outside their own borders, such as the GDPR, or certain US laws. It probably has little reason to worry about the laws of other countries. If A is itself a major country that can easily resist any pressue from X, C has even less reason to worry.

If C does significant business in countries D and E, and particularly if it opens physical offices in D or keeps assets in E, it will have much more reason to worry about the laws of D and E. If it does advertising in the D & E markets, this also gives C more reason to be concerned with their laws.

There is always some risk of X finding a way to enforce its laws, but the risk is small.

  • Can C fall under jurisdiction by doing bussiness through its subsidiary ? – scientist Feb 8 at 13:52
  • @scientist That depends on the details of the relationship, and the country involved. It is really a separate question. But in most cases a subsidiary is treated as a separate entity. – David Siegel Feb 8 at 15:33
  • I seem to remember that Amazon in Australia ran into something like this. They claimed they didn't need to pay GST (VAT) because they weren't doing business in Australia, Australia said yes you are and yes you do, eventually Amazon just banned the whole country from buying things because taxation is theft I guess – user253751 Feb 8 at 17:02
  • @user253751 I suspect that it was not because of any theoretical position that "taxation is theft" but a decision that the costs of complying were larger than the profits to be made, if your account is correct. Amazon pays many taxes in countries where it does more business, including the US. – David Siegel Feb 8 at 17:13
  • 1
    @user253751 I never said that Amazon can't pass taxes on it its prices. The question would be what profit level such higher prices would result in. In short, I think this was a business decision (wise or not) not an ideological one. – David Siegel Feb 9 at 14:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.