Interpretation Catalysts in Cyberspace

26 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2017 Last revised: 21 Aug 2017

See all articles by Rebecca Ingber

Rebecca Ingber

Boston University - School of Law

Date Written: July 24, 2017


The cybersphere offers a rich space from which to explore the development of international law in a compressed time frame. This piece examines the soft law process over the last decade of the two Tallinn Manuals – handbooks on the international law of cyber warfare and cyber operations – as a valuable lens through which to witness the effects of “interpretation catalysts” on the evolution of international law. In prior work, I identified the concept of interpretation catalysts – discrete triggers for legal interpretation – and their influence on the path that legal evolution takes, including by compelling a decision-making body to take a position on its interpretation of a legal rule, shaping all aspects of the decision-making process, ultimately influencing the legal position that body takes, and often the resulting law itself. In this piece, I explore the role that the interpretation catalyst triggering the Tallinn process – the cyberattacks on Estonia in 2007 – have played in the development of the international law governing cyberspace going forward.

Keywords: cyberspace, cyber law, cyber attack, national security law, law of armed conflict, law of war, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, interpretation, war, Tallinn Manual

Suggested Citation

Ingber, Rebecca, Interpretation Catalysts in Cyberspace (July 24, 2017). 95 Texas Law Review 1531 (2017); Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-24. Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Ingber (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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