Cyber Espionage and International Law. By Russell Buchan. Oxford: Hart, 2018 (Book Review)
Canadian Yearbook of international Law, 2018/Annuaire canadien de droit international, 2018
6 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2019
Date Written: April 1, 2019
In 2015, then US President Barack Obama referred to cyberspace as the “new Wild West” — vast, lawless, and without a sheriff in sight. Given these qualities, it is unsurprising that actors leverage cyberspace to perpetrate crime, terrorism, foreign influence, and espionage with increasing effectiveness. Meanwhile, the international community has struggled to find common ground on the application, let alone enforcement, of international law in cyberspace. While there have been a number of high-level commitments made by allied states to work together to develop “norms of cyberspace,” the prominent and decade-long effort of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts to address state behaviour in cyberspace collapsed in 2017 due to a lack of consensus. Two separate and open-ended working groups have since taken its place; one effort led by the United States, the other by Russia.
In his text, Cyber Espionage and International Law, Russell Buchan not only takes on the notion that cyberspace is a lawless domain, but he also challenges the oft-repeated assertion that state-sponsored espionage is lawful under international law.
Keywords: Cyber, espionage, international law, economic espionage, customary international law
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