Don’t miss this podcast: Mike Schmitt on “Inside the Enemy’s Camp: ‘Offensive’ Cyber Ops and International Law”

Few topics are more controversial than offensive cyber operations, so we were thrilled to have Professor Mike Schmitt address that topic in his keynote address for our 25th Annual National Security Law Conference last week.

Prof Mike Schmitt

Mike is no ordinary scholar as he’s widely-regarded as the ‘dean’ of cyber operations’ legal experts. Among his many accomplishments is his service as the general editor for the Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations which is itself considered by many as the “most comprehensive guide for policy advisors and legal experts on how existing International Law applies to cyber operations.”  Mike also writes extensively on the topic, and lectures on it around the globe – I think his passport has stamps from some 50 countries! .

Literally everyone wants to know his views on the legal aspects of cyber operations.  We want to share his perspectives on these complex and difficult issues with our Lawfire® readers…though in this instance you need to watch/listen here.

In his presentation, Mike analyzes how serious cyber events of the last few years -including attempts to manipulate elections as well as the emergence of powerful ransomware viruses like WannaCry and NotPetya – have led governments to look for greater authorities to conduct extraterritorial operations to fend off off such incidents, as well as new strategies and approaches in order to counter such cyber maliciousness by both state and non-state actors.

Mike tackles hardest questions, including what is a use of force in cyberspace?  Put another way, how should we think about the prohibitions on the use of force in Article 2 of the UN Charter, a document created well before the cyber age?

What does the phrase “armed attack” – the trigger for self-defense authority in Article 51 of the Charter – mean in an age of cyber weaponry?

How does the sovereignty of nations work into the legal calculation?  Can countermeasures be the right – or perhaps only – lawful response in a given situation?   What about the concept of “necessity” in these cases?

Mike examines the implications of the U.S.’s  “defend forward” and “persistent engagement” cyber strategies from a “can-we-do-that?’ perspective.  He also reviews the respective statements by the governments of the France and the Netherlands as to their view of the law of cyber operations.

All this and more in the podcast of his keynote “Inside the Enemy’s Camp: ‘Offensive’ Cyber Ops and International Law.”  What makes this podcast all the more valuable is that Mike is gifted with the uncanny ability to explain complex areas of the law in a way that is accessible and meaningful to both those new to the area, as well as those with specialized knowledge.

Mike, who served twenty years as an Air Force judge advocate, is also a long-time friend.  During his presentation he relates an interesting (?) story about when he was a student of mine in the late 1970s at the Air Force’s Judge Advocate General’s School.  But if you want to hear it, you need to click here!



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