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Applying the Law of Proportionality to Cyber Conflict: Suggestions for Practitioners

Posted by on Thursday, February 9, 2017 in Blog, Left column, Notes, Vol. 50 No. 1, Volume 50, Volumes.

This Note examines the applicability of the law of armed conflict, and particularly the concept of proportionality, to cyber attacks. After exploring deviations in terminology that may lead to confusion in the field, it considers the difficulties associated with applying an area of law first implemented in the post-World War II era to technologies that have only become vitally important in recent years. Delving into some of the facets of cyber technology that make it unique as a potential battleground, this Note examines why those qualities make the law of proportionality particularly difficult to apply. Acknowledging that the law of armed conflict, although perhaps inapt, is nonetheless compulsory, this Note ends with several suggestions that may assist military commanders in conducting cyber operations in a way that comports with the law as it exists today.

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