Existing International Law Applies Online and Offline

By Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg

Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg holds the Chair of Public Law at the Europa-Universität Viadrina in Frankfurt, Germany. Formerly, he was the Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Law at the U.S. Naval War College. He has held numerous positions at universities around the world and is the Vice President of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War and a Senior Fellow of the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia. Heintschel von Heinegg was among a group of international lawyers and naval experts who produced the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea and has been a member of several groups of experts working on the current state and progressive development of international humanitarian law, including the Manual on Air and Missile Warfare and the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare.

A group of international law experts met in Tallinn, Estonia, after the 2007 onslaught of cyber attacks against sites in the country, to create the Tallinn Manual in order to clarify what constitutes an act of war in cyberspace and how countries could lawfully respond. The vast majority of everyday cyber attacks, however, do not constitute an act of war, so the recent release of the Tallinn Manual 2.0 is an attempt to place cyber operations below the threshold of war within an international legal framework. The Cipher Brief spoke with Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, the Chair of Public Law at the Europa-Universität Viadrina and one of the legal experts who worked on both Tallinn Manuals, about where cyber operations fall in international law and how the manual can help countries navigate a complex landscape in cyberspace.

The Cipher Brief: What is the Tallinn Manual 2.0 and what does it hope to accomplish?

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