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From Nuclear War to Net War:

Analogizing Cyber Attacks in International Law

by Scott J. Shackelford1

Table of Contents

Introduction 2

I.

Defining Information Warfare and the Threat of Cyber Attacks      9       

a.

The U.S. Response to the Global Threat of Cyber Attacks………………11

II.

From Russia with Love?: The Cyber Attack on Estonia       13

a.

Timeline of the Estonian Cyber Attack…………………………………..15

b.

Determining Responsibility for the Estonian Cyber Attack………...……17

c.

The Reaction of the U.S. and NATO to the Estonia Cyber Attack.............20

III.

Sovereignty over the Information Commons       22

a.

Option 1: Regulating Cyberspace through the Effects Principle………..23

b.

Option 2: Regulating the Information Commons through the Common Heritage of Mankind………………………………………………….….24

IV.

Analogizing Peacetime Responses to Cyber Attack in International Law        27

a.

The Analogy of Nuclear War ……...…………………………………….29

b.

The Analogy of Space Law and the Antarctic Treaty System …………...32

c.

The Analogy of Communications Law and U.S. Cyber Law ……………36

i.

U.S. Cyber Law Applied to Information Warfare……………….37

d.

The Analogy of the Law of the Sea……………………………………....41

e.

Analogizing other Applicable Accords…………………………………..44

V.

Armed Attacks in Information Warfare       46

a.

State Responsibility for Cyber Attacks…………………………………...49

i.

Proposal: Incitement to Genocide Through Cyber Attacks……...54

b.

Cyber Attacks and Self-Defense………………………………………….56

c.

The Intersections of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law

…………………………………………………………………………...59

i.

Applying IHL to Cyber Attacks…………………………………..62

ii.

Information Warfare, International Criminal and Human Rights Law................................................................................................65

VI.

Summary of the Present Legal Regime and a Proposal Going Forward

1 Scott Shackelford is a J.D. candidate at Stanford Law School and a Ph.D candidate in international relations at the University of Cambridge.

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