Marko Milanovic and Michael N. Schmitt explain that the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly highlighted the need to further international cyber law discourse amongst states. Malicious cyber operations directed against medical facilities and capabilities and campaigns of misinformation have interfered with states’ abilities to effectively fight the virus and treat their populations.
These acts can be qualified as violations of international law, at time violating the state sovereignty, intervening in state internal affairs, and even amounting to wrongful use of force. At the same time, states have a duty under human rights law to combat harmful cyber operations and misinformation campaigns by states and non-state actors alike.
All states, human rights courts, human rights monitoring bodies, the academy, the private sector and NGOs must take up the challenge presented by this tragic pandemic to move the law governing cyberspace in the right direction.
Marko Milanovic is Professor of Public International Law, University of Nottingham School of Law.
Michael Schmitt is Professor of International Law, University of Reading; Francis Lieber Distinguished Scholar, West Point; Strauss Center Distinguished Scholar and Visiting Professor of Law, University of Texas; Charles H. Stockton Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, U.S. Naval War College.