considerations of how and when such weapons might be used—could require reinterpretation or revision.

Some analysts have responded to these questions in the negative, arguing that cyberweapons are no different than any other weapons and thus that no new legal or ethical analysis is needed to understand their proper use.2 Others have taken the opposite view, arguing that cyberweapons are so different from kinetic weapons that new legal regimes are needed to govern their use.3 Further, some argue that it is much easier to place substantive constraints on new military technologies before they have been integrated into the doctrine and structure of a nation’s armed forces. And still others have taken the view that although cyberweapons do raise some new issues, the basic principles underlying existing legal and ethical regimes continue to be valid even though analytical work is needed to understand how these principles do/should apply to cyberweapons.

As is indicated below in this chapter, the committee’s perspective is most similar to the last one articulated above. Furthermore, the committee observes that in no small measure, the range of opinions and conclusions about the need for new regimes comes from the fact that as indicated in Chapter 2, the notion of cyberattack spans an enormous range of scale, impact, and complexity. Some specification of a cyberattack’s range, scope, and purpose must be presented if analytical clarity is to be achieved.

This chapter does not attempt to provide a comprehensive normative analysis. Instead, it reviews the current international and domestic legal regimes, and suggests where existing regimes may be inadequate or ambiguous when the use of cyberweapons is contemplated. In addition, it explores issues that cyberattack may raise outside the realm of the relevant legal regimes. In all instances, the emphasis is on raising questions, exploring ambiguities, and stimulating thought.

Although this report takes a Western perspective on ethics and human rights, the committee acknowledges that these views are not universal. That is, other religious and ethnic cultures have other ethical and human rights traditions and practices that overlap only partially with those of the United States or the West, and their ethical and human rights traditions may lead nations associated with these cultures to take a different perspective on ethical, human rights, and legal issues regarding cyberattack. Perhaps most importantly, other nations may take a more expansive or a


This point of view was expressed in presentations to the committee by the USAF Cyberspace Task Force (briefing of LTC Forrest Hare, January 27, 2007).


See, for example, Christopher C. Joyner and Catherine Lotrionte, “Information Warfare as International Coercion: Elements of a Legal Framework,” European Journal of International Law 12(5):825-865, 2001.

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