U.S. Releases Global Cyberspace Strategy

Timothy Farnsworth

The Obama administration last month released its international strategy for cyberspace, calling on “like-minded states” to come together to establish acceptable rules and norms for responsible state behavior in cyberspace.

At a May 16 press conference announcing the release of the strategy, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan said the report “is the first major policy document issued by this government that articulates U.S. views and policy pursuits regarding the international cyberspace domain.”

The strategy calls for partner states to create rules and norms that support a cyberspace where “fundamental freedoms, privacy, and the free flow of information” are unimpeded. Such ideas have been obstacles in bringing China and Russia to the negotiating table for cyberspace. (See ACT, June 2010.)

The strategy also says that existing norms and international laws governing state conduct in times of peace and conflict should apply to cyberspace. The right to self-defense, found within the UN Charter, “may be triggered by certain aggressive acts in cyberspace,” the report says.

The strategy does not specify the kinds of cyberattacks that would be considered acts of war, but does state that the United States could respond militarily to cyberattacks made against national security assets and interests, including U.S. allies and partners.