China, International Law, and Cyberspace: CFR

Adam Segal wrote a great post for the Council on Foreign Relations’ Asia Unbound blog concerning China’s view on the law that applies to cyberattack.  Of course, Harold Koh, the U.S. Dept of State’s legal advisor, recently said that cyberattacks are subject to international law.  Accordingly, “[c]yber activities that proximately result in death, injury, or significant destruction would likely be viewed as a use of force.”  Before using cyberweapons, you have to apply the traditional distinction/proportionality/necessity analysis.

However, the Chinese don’t buy that approach, and may feel that a new treaty is necessary.  Interestingly, Segal writes that the Chinese view the U.S. approach as “too narrow,” preferring a broader approach that would allow “room to interpret the spread of rumors, gossip, and other malicious information through the use of communication technologies as a security threat.”  Moreover, Segal cites at least one Chinese analyst who thinks that LOAC simply doesn’t apply because it is too difficult to reconcile proportionality, acts of aggression, distinction, and neutrality with cyberspace.

Check out Adam Segal’s article for CFR here.

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Authors

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Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

is completing her Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the College of Law of Syracuse University. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and as an extern in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Full biography

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

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