International Legal Issues and Approaches Regarding Information Warfare

Nitu, Alexandru
January 2011
Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Warfa;2011, p200
Conference Proceeding
In present times, societies and economies increasingly rely on electronic communications, becoming more vulnerable to threats from cyberspace. At the same time, states' military and intelligence organizations are increasingly developing the capability to attack and defend computer systems. The progress of information technology makes it possible for adversaries to attack each other in new ways, inflicting new forms of damage; technological change enables cyberwarfare acts that do not fit within existing legal categories, or may reveal contradictions among existing legal principles. The paper examines the relationship between information warfare and the law, especially international law and the law of war, as it is apparent that some fundamental questions regarding this new and emerging type of security threat need to be explored. For example, what types of activities between nation states, could or should be called information warfare? What are 'force', 'armed attack', or 'armed aggression' - terms from the UN Charter - in the Information Age, and do they equate to information warfare? Information warfare is neither 'armed' in the traditional sense, nor does it necessarily involve conflict, so an important issue is if 'war' between states necessarily require physical violence, kinetic energy, and human casualties. A threshold question that arises from the development of information warfare techniques is thus the definitional one: has the development of information warfare technology and techniques taken information warfare out of the existing legal definition of war? Characteristics of information technology and warfare pose problems to those who would use international law to limit information warfare, and leave legal space for those who would wage such warfare. Consequently, there may be confusion over what limits may apply to the conduct of information warfare, and when information warfare attacks may be carried out. Prospects of new technological attacks pose problems for international law because law is inherently conservative. From this point of view, the paper examines how the law itself might change in response to the fast development of information technology and how will long-established legal principles such as national sovereignty and the inviolability of national borders be affected by the ability of cyberspace to transcend such concepts.


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