Cyberspace May Be Designated As An Official Operational Domain Of Warfare By NATO Members

Cyberspace  May Be Deignated As An Official Operational Domain Of Warfare By NATO MembersCyberspace has become a very hostile and turbulent domain. Sophisticated malware and cyber attacks are very common in cyberspace these days. The NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCD COE) has even released a manual titled the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare (pdf) to provide an academic guidance for international cyber warfare related acts. Perry4Law Organisation (P4LO) has also launched two dedicated blogs titled International Legal Issues of Cyber Security and International Legal Issues of Cyber Attacks for all stakeholders.

Legal issues of Internet and cyberspace are very difficult to manage. For instance, authorship attribution for cross border cyber attacks convictions is a controversial and complicated area that requires attention of nations across the world. US agency DARPA has solicited innovative research proposals in the area of cyber attribution. There are many more challenges that nations around the world are facing in the cyberspace and the same can be managed only by establishing an international techno legal framework. From conflict of laws in cyberspace to civil liberties protection in cyberspace, governments around the world have to manage many sensitive, crucial and constitutional norms. This situation is further made complicated due to absence of international treaties on cyber law and cyber security (pdf).

Nevertheless, a proposed effort of NATO would be a significant step in this direction. According to media reports, NATO members will likely agree during a summit meeting in Warsaw next month to designate cyber as an official operational domain of warfare, along with air, sea, land and space. Major General Ludwig Leinhos, who heads the German military’s effort to build up a separate cyber command, told a conference at the Berlin air show that he expected all 28 NATO members to agree to the change during the coming Warsaw summit. Leinhos, who previously held a senior job at NATO headquarters, said he also expected NATO members to agree to intensify their efforts in the cyber security arena. NATO had also requested cyber security cooperation from India in the past. The United States announced in 2011 that it viewed cyberspace as an operational domain of war, and said it would respond to hostile attacks in cyberspace as it would to any other threat.

However, the bigger question is will NATO also provide warscale privacy protection and civil liberties safeguards while engaging in the cyber warfare or traditional warfare activities due to cyberspace violations? There are many more techno legal issues involved in this process, and we at P4LO hope that these issues would be resolved by NATO while recommending cyberspace as a war frontier.

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