Canada’s Civilian Cyber Warriors and the International Legal Implications of a ‘Strong, Secured, and Engaged’ Cyber Policy

CDAI Vimy Paper, 2019

25 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2019

See all articles by Leah West

Leah West

Carleton University - Norman Paterson School of International Affairs; University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 19, 2019

Abstract

The past two years have marked a turning point in Canada’s cyber defence and security policy. In “Strong, Secure and Engaged,” the Government of Canada called on the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to adopt a more assertive cyber posture. To implement this policy, the CAF will have to rely heavily on Canada’s civilian signals intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE). Under the proposed Bill C-59: An Act Respecting National Security Matters, CSE’s responsibilities will be expanded to include the provision of technical and operational assistance to CAF and the Department of National Defence, and a mandate to engage in defensive and active cyber operations. This paper assesses the international legal implications arising from CSE’s expanded mandate and the risks of relying on civilians to engage in offensive operations in an armed conflict. Looking to our five eyes partners for guidance, the paper also makes a series of policy proposals to minimize the risks to Canadian security and international relations arising from those implications.

Keywords: cyber, defence policy, offensive operations, international law

Suggested Citation

West, Leah, Canada’s Civilian Cyber Warriors and the International Legal Implications of a ‘Strong, Secured, and Engaged’ Cyber Policy (February 19, 2019). CDAI Vimy Paper, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3350610

Leah West (Contact Author)

Carleton University - Norman Paterson School of International Affairs ( email )

1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
Canada

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law ( email )

Falconer Hall
84 Queens Part
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada

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