Trends in International Law for Cyberspace

This paper by CCDCOE legal experts focuses on legal developments and trends in the domain of international law for cyberspace. It is generally held that international law applies to cyberspace, now the legal debate has shifted to how the legal principles apply in the cyberspace.

‘Trends in International Law on Cyber’ is a collaborative view of the NATO CCDCOE Law Branch experts, demarcating the latest trends in international law and envisioning their evolution over the next few years. These developments feed into (inter)national organisations’ and other stakeholders’ planning, strategy and capability preparation in the cyber domain.

The authors of this paper do not assert this to be a complete catalogue of trends, neither is the list of topics presented in any particular order. Also, while the effort has been made to describe globally relevant legal developments, it is acknowledged that the list stems from a Euro-Atlantic geopolitical perspective, and that the division between political developments and trends in law is not always clear-cut.

The researchers point out that the acceptance of particular legal rules to cyberspace varies largely: countries are divided on whether existing treaty and customary law is adequate for covering cyber issues. The search for effective ways to respond to malicious activities has brought forward a wave of new initiatives promoting norms of responsible behaviour in cyberspace.

In addition, the paper looks at the legal aspects of using cyber activities in military operations. A separate section is devoted to cyber related law enforcement and national security issues as well as respective industry regulations. To conclude, the paper provides an overview of the expected developments in a 5-year perspective as the digital technologies continue to increase their foothold and there is still no consensus over how international law applies in the cyberspace.

To improve overall awareness of international developments in law on cyber, the CCDCOE researchers comprise on a regular basis overviews and summaries of the most relevant recent trends and developments in the legal domain. This paper is an independent product of the CCDCOE and does not represent the official policy or position of NATO or any of the CCDCOE´s Sponsoring Nations.



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