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Extending the Law of War to Cyberspace


Air-traffic control

Air-traffic control systems are part of the national infrastructure that may someday come under attack, experts say.

Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

It may come as a surprise to some war victims, but there actually is a body of international law that establishes when and how nations can legally engage in armed conflict.

Various treaties and the United Nations Charter, and The Hague and Geneva Conventions, are able to draw official distinctions between victims and aggressors. They serve as guidelines that, when honored, provide some protection to civilians. Professional militaries train with the rules of war in mind, recognizing that abiding by them works to their benefit as much as to the enemy's.

It is no surprise, then, that many legal experts, diplomats and military commanders around the world are now debating how to extend the law of war to cyberspace. The emergence of electronic and cyberwar-fighting capabilities is the most important military development in decades, but it is not yet clear how existing treaties and conventions might apply in this new domain of conflict.

From National Public Radio
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