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09 October 2015

Tallinn Manual 2.0 to Be Completed in 2016

The Tallinn Manual 2.0 is on track to be completed and published in the second half of 2016. Top legal experts met this week in Estonia for a drafting session of the substantially expanded and updated edition of the handbook on applicability of international law to the cyber realm.

“Our focus has to be practical – how existing international laws, treaties and norms regulate activities in cyberspace,” explained Professor Michael Schmitt, Director of the Tallinn Manual project. “We do not hope to replace state legal advisers, but to offer a tool to give their clients good guidance. That is best accomplished by laying out all the legal options for them,” said Schmitt highlighting that the international group of experts provides the full range of reasonable interpretations of the law.

“During this session, the most difficult material proved to be international human rights law governing activities in cyberspace,” emphasized Liis Vihul, managing editor of the Tallinn Manual and legal researcher at the Tallinn-based the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. First, the group deliberated whether international human rights norms apply at all to the activity concerned, such as the collection of metadata, said Vihul. “If the answer is yes, we then have to examine whether the state has actually violated the individual’s rights. For instance, assuming the collection of metadata implicates human rights norms, under what circumstances is a state authorized to engage in such activities?”

The Tallinn Manual process is funded, hosted and facilitated by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Distinguished international law academics and practitioners from around the world met in Estonia this week to discuss the Tallinn Manual 2.0 draft sections on human rights, diplomatic law, the responsibility of international organizations, international telecommunications law, and peace operations. The final Tallinn Manual international group of experts meeting is scheduled for March 2016.

Tallinn Manual 2.0 is the follow-on to the successful Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare. Both aim to offer guidance on applying existing international norms to the cyber arena, consist of black letter rules with commentary and are based on the consensus of an international group of legal experts. Tallinn Manual 2.0 will expand the scope of the original piece to so-called peacetime international law, addressing incidents that states frequently face.

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