The ‘Virtual Eichmann’: on Sovereignty in Cyberspace

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-65

Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2020-33

25 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2020

See all articles by Peter B.M.J. Pijpers

Peter B.M.J. Pijpers

University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law, Amsterdam Center for International Law, Students

Bart van den Bosch

Netherlands Defense Academy

Date Written: December 11, 2020

Abstract

Sovereignty is a complex notion of international law, and not less disputed in the current digital era. Some States question whether sovereignty is a ‘mere’ principle of international law in the virtual cyberspace or a binding rule. This article argues that the sovereignty of States is a primary rule of law in cyberspace, though mainly based on a violation of the political independence, rather than on the territorial integrity. In the 1960s abduction of Eichmann both territorial integrity and political independence - related to inherently governmental functions - were violated. In a fictitious remote cyber deletion of a ‘virtual Eichmann’ it is difficult to substantiate how territorial integrity in cyberspace is being violated when no physical or functional damage occurs. However, the inherent governmental functions of the State can and will be violated when a remote cyber operation is executed aimed at State functions such as taxation, law enforcement or elections, not least since these functions are less territorial in nature. Clarity regarding the exact threshold at which the inherent political functions are violated will require further State practice, but the mere question ‘when’ the breach happens illustrates the existence of a primary rule of law.

Keywords: Sovereignty; territorial integrity; political independence; cyberspace; Eichmann

JEL Classification: K33, K40, F51, F52, N40

Suggested Citation

Pijpers, Peter and van den Bosch, Bart, The ‘Virtual Eichmann’: on Sovereignty in Cyberspace (December 11, 2020). Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-65, Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2020-33, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3746843 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3746843

Peter Pijpers (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law, Amsterdam Center for International Law, Students ( email )

P.O. Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000BA
Netherlands

Bart Van den Bosch

Netherlands Defense Academy ( email )

P.O. Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000BA
Netherlands

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