Is Cyber War Legal: A Four Hundred Year Retrospective

Note: Presentation times are in Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Monday, February 01, 2021 - 7:15 am7:45 am

Scott Shapiro, Yale University


As cyber-attacks have become increasingly common (e.g., STUXNET, DNC hack, NotPetya), lawyers have struggled to determine how these 21st Century weapons fit into the traditional laws of war. Despite the enormous amount of attention paid to cyber-conflict over the past decade, the legal community is more confused than ever. Put bluntly, we are still very far away from agreeing on whether cyberwar is legal and, if so, under which circumstances. In this talk, I try to answer these questions by situating current debates within the long history of international law. The modern laws of war have changed dramatically from their initial formulations in the seventeenth century. By seeing how the right of war has evolved over the last four hundred years, I show how cyber conflicts fit into this evolution and the conditions under which states may use cyberweapons to disrupt the digital networks of their adversaries.

Scott Shapiro, Yale University

Scott Shapiro is the Charles F. Southmayd Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. His areas of interest include jurisprudence, international law, criminal law and cybersecurity. He is the author of Legality (2011), The Internationalists (2017) (with Oona Hathaway) and editor of The Oxford Handbook of Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law (2002) (with Jules Coleman). He earned B.A. and Ph.D. degrees in philosophy from Columbia University and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Shapiro is an editor of Legal Theory and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He is also the founding director of the Yale CyberSecurity Lab, which provides cutting-edge cybersecurity and information technology teaching facilities. His next book, entitled Insecurity, details the history and technology of internet hacking.

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@conference {264090,
author = {Scott Shapiro},
title = {Is Cyber War Legal: A Four Hundred Year Retrospective},
year = {2021},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = feb

Presentation Video