Legality in Cyberspace: An Adversary View

Legality in Cyberspace: An Adversary View
Legality in Cyberspace: An Adversary View
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The United States and its allies are in general agreement on the legal status of conflict in cyberspace. Some variations in the legal definitions include what precisely constitutes an armed attack or use of force in cyberspace.  The legal debates within and between Euro-Atlantic militaries are generally in harmony and derive from a broader legal consensus in these nations.
This consensus holds that existing international law and international commitments are sufficient to regulate cyber conflict, and furthermore, that certain individual rights in using cyberspace are inalienable. However, other key cyber actors, such as Russia and China, and a number of like-minded nations, have radically different ideas on key concepts of cyber warfare, including when a state of war exists. This Letort Paper explores the Russian approach to legal constraints governing actions in cyberspace, in order to assist in formulating an effective response to Russian cyber initiatives.
Additionally, this paper explores using a Russian perspective to examine the legal status of various activities in cyberspace, including what constitutes hostile activity, and demonstrates that assumptions commonly held in the United States may need to be adjusted to effectively counter—or engage with—Russian cyber initiatives.

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The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to offer this detailed analysis as an essential guide to the mindset of an important cyber actor, and one which it is essential for the United States to understand.  U.S. policymakers, world leaders, U.S. and foreign militaries, law enforcement and the intelligence community, as well as commercial Internet services companies, may be interested in this topical content.  Students engaged in law, public policy, information technologies, national security, and cyberspace and criminal justice programs may also have interest in this work.

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Defense Dept., Army, Strategic Studies Institute
  • Giles, Keir
Key Phrases:
  • Letort Papers
  • Cyberspace
  • Adversary View
  • Law and Legislation
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