Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

IW Cyberlaw

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

IW Cyberlaw

Article excerpt

The Legal Issues of Information Warfare

SHOULD INFORMATION-WARFARE techniques be viewed as weapons or as another instrument of foreign policy?

This article briefly delves into the treaties and laws governing warfare from an information-war perspective. Do these treaties and criminal laws prohibit the bulk of the most technologically effective techniques from being used, particularly during peacetime?

By and large, many of the legal parameters of information warfare (IW) are, as yet, ambiguous. This uncertainty can only be resolved through open and frank discussion of just where information-warfare operations fit into foreign policy, international relations, and the international legal environment.

The problem is that a nation or actor may well take advantage of the ambiguities that exist and force us to attempt to resolve these issues long before we are prepared to even address them. This article is a modest step to suggest a paradigm for analysis of these issues before we find ourselves backed into the proverbial corner and are forced to choose between no response and a vigilante-style response.

What Is "Information Warfare"?

Although it seems clear at first blush, the term information warfare means different things to different people. There is little agreement on an accepted definition. Information warfare, attack-mode and defensive-mode warfare, electronic warfare, cyberwarfare, cyberwar, soft war, hacker warfare, and low-intensity warfare are just a few of the terms that are used in information-warfare circles to describe the same general concept.'

Sun Tzu thought of information warfare as including all elements necessary to win without fighting. He advised that you should "assess your opponents; cause them to lose spirit and direction so that even if the opposing army is intact it is useless."2 This suggests that the scope of information warfare has, from the very beginning, been all-inclusive and embraces every aspect of information use that would permit war without battle.

This seems to include the modern notions of human intelligence (HUMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), communications intelligence (COMINT), psychological operations (PSYOP), and every other method of gathering and affecting information that may be used to the advantage of one nation or to the detriment of another during a conflict.

Gen Ronald R. Fogleman, former Air Force chief of staff, has referred to the information explosion and the proliferation of interest in information operations as the "fifth dimension of warfare."' He describes the land, sea, air, and space as the first four dimensions.4 He characterized information warfare as "any action to deny, exploit, corrupt, or destroy the enemy's information and its functions; protecting ourselves against those actions; and exploiting our own military information functions."5

Alvin and Heidi Toffler were among the first to meaningfully address the modern information explosion and its impact upon society. They speak of our next conflict as being an "anti-war." They characterize the latest information revolution as the "information age" much like the agricultural age and the industrial age.6They recognize that knowledge is the "central resource of destructivity just as it is the central resource for productivity.' "Knowledge is what the anti-wars of tomorrow will be about."8 The Tofflers' opinions suggest that the breadth of information warfare is all-encompassing, including all forms of knowledge.

The National Defense University (NDU) defines information warfare as the "aggresS sive use of information means to achieve national objectives . . . the sequence of actions undertaken by all sides of a conflict to destroy, degrade, and exploit the information systems of their adversaries," and it also includes actions intended to protect systems against hostile actions.9 The Information Warfare Center at Kelly AFB, Texas, casts a wide net in its definition of information warfare. …

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