Russia’s alleged computer hacking to interfere in US elections was no act of war, but exploited a legal grey zone that makes justifying retaliation hard, international lawyers specializing in cyber issues said Wednesday. Moscow’s interference in the presidential campaign last year by hacking Democratic Party computers and leaking embarrassing communications was an act of espionage — legal under international law — and at worst a slight violation of US sovereignty, the lawyers said. But it was definitely no act of war, as some American politicians have suggested, US lawyer Michael Schmitt said, adding that calling it such “is very destabilizing.” Speaking at the launch of a new manual on cyber attacks and international law, he said the reaction to the Russia-US hacking case heightens the need for accepted international standards for countries to assess and counter cyber attacks proportionately.
The new volume, “Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations” was produced by 20 international lawyers led by Schmitt at the Estonia-based NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.
A bid to create a framework for policymakers around the world, the manual lays out a number of situations and cases to which it applies established international law.
“It was clear that states were grappling on a day-to-day basis” with peacetime cyber attacks, said Liis Vihul, an Estonian lawyer who was project manager for the manual. A key thing they want to know is “when do states enjoy the right to self-defense?”
Full Article: Russian election hacks exploited legal grey zone: lawyers.