New “Tallinn Manual” details how international law regulates cyberwarfare

tallinnThe Luddite in me casts a skeptical eye at arguments that some new technology is not regulated by old laws. After teaching cyberwar in a Laws of War class, for example, my takeaway was the key to resolving many legal questions is not to make new laws but rather to adapt laws on the books as needed (and only to the extent that adaption is needed). Thus it’s heartening to find kindred spirits among the drafters of Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare. As Manual editor Michael Schmitt, who leads the International Law Department at the U.S. Naval War College, told an AP reporter:

‘”Everyone was seeing the Internet at the ‘Wild, Wild West.’ What they had forgotten is that international law applies to cyberweapons like it applies to any other weapons.'”

The 320-page Tallinn Manual, to be released in print on March 31 and already available in electronic format, is the product of 3 years of study by a score of legal experts, among them present and former members of the military as well as law professors and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The manual’s focus is cyberwarfare (but not economic cyber espionage, subject of the new ASIL Insight available here). Rules of cyberwarfare are analyzed against the backdrop of numerous international law concepts and doctrines, for example: sovereignty and jurisdiction; state responsibility; use of force and self-defense (the latter reportedly a topic of debate among the experts); and law of armed conflict issues including participation in the hostilities, permissible objects of attack, and means and methods of warfare.

This brand-new text is the instant go-to reference on the topic.

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