Law of Cyber Warfare
International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society (Wiley-Blackwell), 2014 (Forthcoming)
20 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2014 Last revised: 17 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 14, 2014
Throughout the evolution of human civilization, many things have remained constant. Art, reasoning, religion, the development of languages, and the creation of communities are all things that unify human existence. To support orderly societies, humans create governance regimes, often organized in a hierarchy, with the national government being the “law of the land” and smaller, local governing bodies addressing the needs of smaller divisions within the same “nation state,” or State. Unfortunately, sometimes these States get into conflicts with each other – sometimes over resources, or the actions of one State’s citizens, or ideologies, or the simple desire for power. Thus, just as there have long been laws governing the relations of citizens within a State, for nearly as long, human civilization has also relied on various rules and protocols for governing relations between States. The body of rules and principles that governs relations between States has developed more formally over the last few hundred years and is called international law.
This entry focuses on international law in the modern age, especially as it has been affected by modern communication technologies that increase the danger of cyberwar. First, we provide some general background information about agreements between States under international law, such as treaties. While there are many ways that international law can develop, treaties may be especially effective at addressing how international law should evolve to address new technologies. Next, we turn to the main focus of this entry: applying international law to the modern communication environment, especially given the threat of cyber warfare. The threats are real, the technology is rapidly developing, but formal legal positions are still being debated.
Keywords: cyberterrorism, cyberattacks, cyber intrusion, communication and public policy, cyberwar, cyberlaw, hacking, Stuxnet
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