Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

64 Federal Communications Law Journal 643 (2012)


More and more, the United States and other countries rely on complex infrastructures that are primarily controlled by information technology. Although extremely destructive cyber threats and attacks against nations are a reality, the laws governing cyber exploitation have not kept pace with this threat. Because the United States and other nations may use cyber capabilities offensively as well as defensively, it is important that the laws for engaging in such cyber conflict be well defined. Currently, it seems unlikely that cyber exploitation can ever be regarded as a threat or use of force under the UN Charter because it is typically regarded as espionage, which is permissible internationally. This Note first analyzes whether cyber exploitation can constitute a threat or use of force, and then analyzes whether that should be the case. While the Note concludes that cyber exploitation likely does not constitute a threat or use of force under current law, it finds that, it should constitute such a threat or use of force in some cases. Even in situations where it does not rise to the level of threat or use of force, cyber exploitation should still be prohibited internationally because it can be so much more destructive than traditional espionage.