Published September 2000
Much like the discovery of the printing press, the advent of the Internet and electronic communication has had a revolutionary effect around the world. At that earlier time, most human beings lived and died in small communities with minimal outside contact. Legal disputes, commercial or otherwise, were few and far between and were resolved locally.
The printing press and the subsequent proliferation of written communication revolutionized many aspects of human life, including law and commerce. So too will the Internet, but on a scale so massive it is hard to imagine.
Ten years ago the number of computers hooked up to the Internet globally was less than one million. In the year 2000 there are now three hundred million users with Internet access and forecasts project that this number will triple in the next five years. No less than four billion e-mail messages are estimated to have been transmitted in the past twelve months. While this statistic is staggering, bear in mind that many parts of the world’s most populous areas (e.g. China, India, etc.) have yet to come on-line in any significant way!
The development of the Internet has resulted in exponential and explosive growth in electronic commerce. The availability of interactive, real time communications has created “virtual storefronts” for individuals to multi-national corporations who can now make their products and services available to consumers in every corner of the planet. In 1996 it is estimated that worldwide e-commerce revenues amounted to less than ten billion dollars; in the next five years such annual revenues are expected to easily surpass the three trillion dollar mark.
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