The ‘Virtual Eichmann’: on Sovereignty in Cyberspace
Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2020-33
25 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2020
Date Written: December 11, 2020
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: Suggested Citation