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Part II Predominant Security Challenges and International Law, Technological Security, Ch.36 Cybersecurity and International Law

Michael N Schmitt

From: The Oxford Handbook of the International Law of Global Security

Edited By: Robin Geiß, Nils Melzer

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 18 May 2024

Sovereignty — Use of force, war, peace and neutrality

This chapter discusses the international law of cybersecurity, which, at just over two decades old, remains in a relative state of infancy. States continue to struggle with such basic issues as sovereignty in cyberspace. In great part, the challenge is that many States are conflicted over the application and interpretation of key aspects of international law in the cyber context. After all, although international law can serve as a normative firewall against hostile cyber operations, the principle of sovereign equality means that protective norms also can act as barriers to a State's own cyber operations, some of which may be deemed essential to the State, especially with respect to national security. These differences in normative perspective often play out domestically in disagreements between ministries with different roles vis-à-vis cyberspace, and internationally between States wielding offensive cyber capability and those that see themselves primarily as victims thereof. To examine the relationship between cybersecurity and international law, the chapter begins by cataloguing the development of the international law of cyberspace. It then turns to the substantive legal issues, paying particular attention to those matters that presently are the source of contention amongst States.

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