NATO presents the Tallinn Manual 2.0 on International Law Applicable to cyberspace

Pierluigi Paganini February 05, 2017

NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) has published ‘Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations.’

Its world launch will be in Washington DC, February 8 at The Atlantic Council; followed by Europe at The Hague, February 13; and Tallinn, February 17.

The manual will be available from February 8 when it will be presented at The Atlantic Council in Washington.

The Tallinn Manual 2.0 follows the first one, so-called Tallinn 1.0, published in 2013, it is the most comprehensive analysis of how existing international law applies to operations in the cyberspace.

It analyzes cyber activities that fall short of modern information warfare, the title itself is changed from ‘applicable to cyber warfare’ of the first release to ‘applicable to cyber operations’ in the Tallinn Manual 2.0.

The Tallinn Manual research is led by Michael Schmitt, Professor of Public International Law at Exeter Law School, and a Senior Fellow at the United States Naval War College.

Nineteen international law experts contributed to the Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations, it is the most influential resource for legal advisers dealing with cyber issues.

Compared with the first edition of the manual, the Tallinn Manual 2.0 includes a legal analysis of the more common cyber incidents that are suffered by states on a daily base.

Tallinn Manual 2.0

The vast majority of events in the cyberspaces represents a threat to the states, but their effects are not considered sufficient to trigger the use of force or armed conflict.

It is important to highlight that the Tallinn Manual 2.0 is a collection of opinions of its eminent authors, but it doesn’t represent a guideline of the NATO alliance, neither the NATO CCD COE, or any other entity.

“The focus of the original Tallinn Manual was on the most severe cyber operations, those that violate the prohibition of the use of force in international relations, entitle states to exercise the right of self-defence, and/or occur during armed conflict.” reads the official page of the research. “Tallinn Manual 2.0 adds a legal analysis of the more common cyber incidents that states encounter on a day-to-day basis and that fall below the thresholds of the use of force or armed conflict.”

The experts analyzed the cyber operations in the current cyber scenario evaluating how they can be framed in the international operating law framework and how to improve it to deal them.

The Tallinn Manual 2.0 is a very important research on the main issues related to state behavior in the cyber space and it highlights the importance to properly consider questions like the resolution of the attribution problem when facing with cyber attacks, the active defense and the possibility to hack back alleged attackers.

Regarding the problem of the attribution, the Tallinn Manual goes on on the legally permissible response to the cyber attack.

Tallinn 2 “covers a full spectrum of international law applicable to cyber operations ranging from peacetime legal regimes to the law of armed conflict, covering a wide array of international law principles and regimes that regulate events in cyberspace. Some pertain to general international law, such as the principle of sovereignty and the various bases for the exercise of jurisdiction. The law of state responsibility, which includes the legal standards for attribution, is examined at length. Additionally, numerous specialised regimes of international law, including human rights law, air and space law, the law of the sea, and diplomatic and consular law, are examined in the context of cyber operations.”

I have no doubt, I’m going to pre-order it, the Tallinn Manual 2.0 is available from Cambridge University Press.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Tallinn Manual 2.0, Information Warfare)

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