“Moscow’s hacking and dumping of Democratic emails to WikiLeaks is not an initiation of armed conflict. It’s not a violation of the U.N. Charter’s prohibition on the use of force. It’s not a situation that would allow the U.S. to respond in self-defense militarily.”
Michael Schmitt, chairman of the U.S. Naval War College’s International Law Department
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has said he believes Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election amounted to an act of war. Legal scholars disagree. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
Sir John Sawers, former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service [MI6], has said that any move towards electronic voting in the UK would leave major elections at risk of being targeted by cybercriminals and hackers.
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Sir John Sawers recommends traditional ‘pencil and paper’ approaches to voting because they are “actually much more secure”.
“The more things that go online, the more susceptible you are to cyber-attacks,” Sawers said on Tuesday (3 January 2017) on the BBC’s The New World: Axis of Power.
“One of the big problems we face with cyber is that it hasn’t really been discussed internationally about what is the acceptable use of cyber-powers, where the red lines are and what happens when those red lines are crossed,” Sir John Sawers stated.
Toni Gidwani, a former Department of Defense analyst who now heads up operations research at cyber-security firm “ThreatConnect”, agrees:
“The rules here are not as clean in terms of what’s allowable and what the consequences are.”
According to the US Department of State, cyber activities would constitute a use of force if they were to cause direct physical injury and property damage such as (1) operations that trigger a nuclear plant meltdown; (2) operations that open a dam above a populated area causing destruction; or (3) operations that disable air traffic control resulting in airplane crashes.
The Tallinn Manual
The Tallinn Manual 2.0 is an updated reference for lawyers around the world on how international law applies to cyberspace.The new manual will be published by Cambridge University Press in March 2017.
Michael Schmitt is the chairman of the U.S. Naval War College’s International Law Department and director of a project that analyzes how international law applies to cyber operations.
Schmitt — also a law professor at the University of Exeter in Britain — led the legal team that compiled the manual.
“I’m no friend of the Russians. But Moscow’s hacking and dumping of Democratic emails to WikiLeaks is not an initiation of armed conflict. It’s not a violation of the U.N. Charter’s prohibition on the use of force. It’s not a situation that would allow the U.S. to respond in self-defense militarily,” Schmitt recently said.
Hacking the DNC’s emails is an act of political espionage, which is not a breach of international law, Schmitt added.
RELATED POST: Obama’s Cryptic Comment on the DNC Leaks
Microsoft weighs in
On Tuesday (14 February 2017), Microsoft President Brad Smith pressed the world’s governments to form an international body to protect civilians from state-sponsored hacking.
“Countries need to develop and abide by global rules for cyber attacks similar to those established for armed conflict at the 1949 Geneva Convention that followed World War Two.
Technology companies need to preserve trust and stability online by pledging neutrality in cyber conflict.
We need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to implement the norms needed to protect civilians on the internet in times of peace.”
The Tallinn Manual — WIKIPEDIA
International Law in Cyberspace — US Department of State