Can the Law Restrain Nations in Cyberspace?

Fibre optic world map, illustration.

The top U.S. cyber diplomat will no longer have the direct ear of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The impending closure of the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, established under President Barack Obama in 2011, has left some in dismay on how cybersecurity plays into the Trump Administration’s “America First” foreign policy. The task of conducting U.S. cyber diplomacy abroad is rumored to now fall under the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

The news came in quick succession after the failure of the 5th United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) discussions on “developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” to reach consensus on the applicability of international law to actions taken in cyberspace. While past GGE negotiations have proved relatively successful – largely because they focused on establishing fluid norms, rather than strict legal frameworks – the collapsed platform, taken alongside the regelation of America’s cyber diplomacy to the background, could suggest a U.S. withdrawal from the conversation on state use of cyber capabilities. This comes at a time when militaries around the world have been tasked with undertaking offensive cyber missions.

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Categorized as:Tech/Cyber

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