The 2023 USCYBERCOM Legal Conference: A recap with videos!

Do you want to hear the latest cyberlaw developments related to national security?  Did you miss this year’s U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) Legal Conference?  If you did attend, would you like to hear the presentations again?   If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then today’s post is for you!  

As many Lawfire readers know, the USCYBERCOM Legal Conference is one the world’s most important symposiums concerning this area of the law.  Last year we were honored to post the recap and videos of the conference (see here) and, thanks to the efforts of LTC Amy Nieman, USA, the CYBERCOM Deputy Staff Judge Advocate (and with the support of Col Pete Hayden, the CYBERCOM Staff Judge Advocate) we are very pleased to present the recap and videos of this year’s conference.

Allow me to reiterate what I said last year: USCYBERCOM itself deserves a lot of kudos.  Not only is it demonstrating a remarkable amount of openness and transparency given the sensitive nature of cyber operations, it is also affirmatively supporting–indeed, leading–the evolution of thinking in a legal discipline that will only become ever more important to the Nation’s – and, really, the world’s – security. 

Enjoy the recap and the videos!  (FYI, the photos below are my adds.)

2023 USCYBERCOM Legal Conference

Recap for Lawfire

by LTC Amy Nieman, USA

For the first time in three years, USCYBERCOM was thrilled to host its annual legal conference in person. The in-person attendees at the Smart Conference Center on Joint Base Andrews comprised cyber legal practitioners from the public and private sectors, from across the interagency legal community, and from twelve foreign partner nations.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Integrated Deterrence: Maintaining Our Edge During Turbulent Times.” At the heart of the National Defense Strategy, the topic of integrated deterrence generated valuable discussion in the numerous critical stakeholders from across the broad community of cyber legal practitioners assembled for the event.

COL Pete Hayden, USCYBERCOM Staff Judge Advocate, opened the conference with an introduction of the theme, stating that the “goal for this conference to bring together the legal community advising on and shaping integration, and for our audience to include representation from all of the critical stakeholders working toward the kind of unity of effort that is going to be required.

To effectively deter our adversaries in this time of increasingly trans-border threats and unbounded security challenges, we need to be able to navigate the evolving legal landscape with an understanding of each others’ differing mandates, missions, clients, perspectives, and constraints: policy, legal, and otherwise.”

Keynote Address: Hon. Caroline Krass, DoD General Counsel

The unclassified portion of the conference spanned two days and featured keynotes from the Honorable Caroline Krass, Department of Defense General Counsel; and General Paul Nakasone, Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of United States Cyber Command.

Ms. Krass highlighted the significant role of the legal community in advancing integrated deterrence and collaboratively facilitating efforts to manage escalation, campaign, and prioritize interoperability and legitimacy through adherence to international law. Her remarks are available here:

Keynote Address: Gen. Paul Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command 

General Nakasone also praised the importance of cyber legal practitioners in building enduring advantages to support integrated deterrence. He underscored the critical need to work closely with our allies and partners from across the interagency, industry, and academia.

His keynote is available here:

Fireside Chat: Hon. Chris Fonzone 

The conference also featured a capstone, a fireside chat with The Honorable Chris Fonzone, the General Counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

He shared an intelligence community perspective, touching on the recently issued executive order prohibiting use by the government of certain commercial spyware, and the implications for legal and cybersecurity practitioners in the government.

Advancing Integrated Deterrence in Cyberspace through National Security Policy

The impressive lineup of conference speakers included Mr. Steve Kelly, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technology for the National Security Council.

Mr. Kelly shared his valuable perspective on Advancing Integrated Deterrence in Cyberspace through National Security Policy, discussing the administration’s policies and responses to cyber-related issues.

Domestic Partnerships: A Fireside Chat with Mr. Brandon Wales

Mr. Brandon Wales, Executive Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), sat down for a fireside chat with Col. Nathan Kearns of USCYBERCOM to kick off in-depth discussions on domestic partnerships and their importance to the National Defense Strategy.

Building a Global Network of Partners

Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy (J5) at U.S. Cyber Command, shared her breadth of experience with the international audience on the importance of building a global network of partners to our national security.

Fireside Chat with Mr. Jim Lewis

Former USCYBER Deputy Staff Judge Advocate Kurt Sanger held a fireside chat on the laws and norms in cyber governance with Jim Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This year’s conference benefited from numerous panels comprised of preeminent scholars, executives, international partners, and experts from the public and private sectors.

Innovation, the Law, and the Role of Lawyers

Mr. Cory Simpson, of the Cyber Solarium Commission 2.0, moderated a panel on the critical role of lawyers in emerging technology and innovation with Karen Silverman, CEO and founder of the Cantellus Group, and Brett Freedman, Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel in the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Strategic and Legal Challenges to Combating the Adversary

Mr. Dean Cheng, Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute; Ms. Beth George, Adjunct Professor, The George Washington University & Partner, Wilson Sonsini; and Mr. Brian Murphy, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University & Managing Director, Logically AI, Inc. lent an academic perspective on the strategic and legal challenges of combating the adversary, in a discussion moderated by Ms. Zhanna Malekos-Smith, Senior Associate, Center for Security and International Studies.

Upping Our Game: Moving from Public Private Information Sharing to Collaboration 

Mr. Ben Kastan, formerly of the National Security Agency and now the Senior Counsel, Data Protection and Cybersecurity, VISA, led a multi-faceted conversation on how to move from private/public information sharing to collaboration, touching on some of the legal concerns associated with such collaboration.

Lending their unique perspectives were Ms. Holly Baroody, Executive Director, USCYBERCOM; Mr. Felipe Paez, Global Lead Counsel, Privacy and Information Protection / Global Privacy Officer, Ernst & Young; Ms. Jeannie Rhee, Partner and Co-head Cybersecurity and Data Protection Practice, Paul Weiss; and Mr. Rob Sheldon, Director of Public Policy and Strategy, CrowdStrike.

How to Optimize Private Public Synergy: An Industry Perspective

USCYBERCOM’s LTC Lori Lincoln facilitated a conversation from the industry perspective: Matthew Eggers, Vice President for Cybersecurity Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Chris Roberti, Senior Vice President for Cyber, Space, and National Security Policy, Chamber of Commerce; and Paul Lekas, Senior Vice President of Global Public Policy, Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) discussed how to optimize private public partnerships for a secure digital ecosystem.

Freedom of Expression in a World of Disinformation: An International Legal Perspective

Rounding out the unclassified portion of the conference, an international panel tackled the issue of freedom of expression in a world of disinformation, providing insight into the mandates, priorities, and constraints of their respective nations.

Lieutenant Commander Mike McCarthy, Deputy Director, Directorate of Cyber Operations Law, Office of the Judge Advocate General Canadian Armed Forces moderated the group, made up of: Mr. Thomas Graindorge, Legal Advisor, French Cyber Defense Command (COMCYBER) (France); Wing Commander Tim Wood, Director of Operations and International Law, New Zealand Defence Force (New Zealand); Lieutenant Colonel Tetsunosuke Jinnai, Legal Advisor, Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Central Operations Support Group (Japan); CPT Thadeous Larkin, U.S. Army, Legal Advisor, USCYBERCOM; and Mr. Andrew Parker (Canada), Legal Counsel, Communications Security Establishment.

Concluding notes

The final day of the conference included a full day of classified sessions, consisting of panels covering a wide variety of operationally focused cyber topics. The first panel provided an international legal perspective on the issues surrounding digital currency. Other panels covered topics on interagency coordination, legal advice at the joint operational level, and the anatomy of a cyber-operation from a legal lens. Attendees also enjoyed participation in a spirited open forum discussion on classified topics.

Save the date for the 2024 USCYBERCOM Legal Conference, which is scheduled for April 16-18 at Joint Base Andrews.


The views and opinions expressed here are the speakers alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U.S.Cyber Command, the Department of Defense, or any other entity of the U.S. government.

The views expressed by guest speakers do not necessarily reflect my views or those of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, or Duke University.  See also here.

Remember what we like to say on Lawfire®: gather the facts, examine the law, evaluate the arguments – and then decide for yourself!

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