Just when a glimmer of hope appeared to take root with the World taking baby steps to avoid cyberwars, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] has seen fit to publish and not condemn a report which justifies the killing of civilian computer hackers in a cyberwar.
The report hypocritically claims “that it does not reflect the views of NATO countries and is not meant to reflect NATO doctrine.” It cynically adds that “[i]t is essential to understand that the Talinn Manual is not an official document, but is only the product of a group of independent experts acting solely in their personal capacity.” [Emphasis supplied]
This is a fig leaf a mile wide for the naked NATO Emperors’ lack of new clothes. It allows NATO the luxury of non-denial denial, to deny authorship and avoid responsibility.
The report entitled “Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, Prepared by the International Group of Experts at the Invitation of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence”, [Cambridge University Press, 2013], a 302 page treatise, is a chilling document, a call to war without bounds or constraints.
The Title Page tells it all. It was made at the request, by invitation only, no need to RSVP, of the “NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence”. You got to be kidding me! “Defense [I use the American spelling of the word] Centre of Excellence”, deemed excellent by whom, by what and when? The “by invitation only” makes it clear it was a bought for and paid for effort to define a military modus operandi response to cyber provocations which would insulate civilian politicians from war crime prosecutions.
I admit to only having skimmed the document. It is replete with footnotes and citations, including citations to fundamentally flawed decisions, orders and opinions by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as well as domestic US and international sources. A thorough study would require hours and days. So what you gets here is a knee jerk, off the cuff comment, subject to revision. It is a call for others to read and comment on the report and give it close scrutiny.
Boiled down to essentials, the report approves the removal of protections afforded civilians during times of war, as provided by international law. A civilian computer hacker in a foreign country who has written malicious software in support of another country’s sabotage of computer networks is now fair game, and could be legally and lethally targeted by NATO military, by drones if you will. Assassination without due process seems to be gaining acceptance.
The world and NATO seem hell bent on pursuing war and not peace. This past week all of South Korea’s financial and banking institutions and television stations were shut down, with some 16,000 computers rendered useless. Some blame China, some blame North Korea. There have been other well documented cyberattacks. NATO’s Tallinn Manual can only hinder a rational solution to the international use of the internet by individuals and sovereign nations.