'Hacking Back' by States and the Uneasy Place of Necessity within the Rule of Law

Zeitschrift für Ausländisches Öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht 80 (2020)

Posted: 15 Jun 2020

See all articles by Henning Lahmann

Henning Lahmann

Digital Society Institute, ESMT Berlin; New York University (NYU) - NYU Law School, Hauser Global Law School Program; University of Geneva - Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Date Written: May 20, 2020

Abstract

The article deals with necessity as one of the circumstances precluding wrongfulness under customary international law and how, in view of the protracted problem of timely attribution in cyberspace, it will likely gain relevance when states are forced to defend against malicious cyber operations threatening important assets such as critical infrastructures. While the necessity doctrine seems fit for purpose in principle, the article argues that it lacks granularity, as it has rarely been tested on the international plane. More importantly, like all norms that invoke an exception to the normal function of the law in an emergency situation, necessity is problematic from an international rule-of-law point of view. Taking these pitfalls into account, the article proposes some general principles for a possible special emergency regime for cyberspace that could put cyber necessity on a normatively more stable footing.

Keywords: cybersecurity, necessity, international law, rule of law, state of emergency, circumstance precluding wrongfulness, cyberattack, cyber operation

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Lahmann, Henning, 'Hacking Back' by States and the Uneasy Place of Necessity within the Rule of Law (May 20, 2020). Zeitschrift für Ausländisches Öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht 80 (2020), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3606052

Henning Lahmann (Contact Author)

Digital Society Institute, ESMT Berlin ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://faculty-research.esmt.berlin/person/henning-christian-lahmann/bio

New York University (NYU) - NYU Law School, Hauser Global Law School Program ( email )

245 Sullivan Street, Suite 340
New York, NY 10012
United States

University of Geneva - Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights ( email )

Villa Myonier
120B rue de Lausanne
Geneva, 1211
Switzerland

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
317
PlumX Metrics