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William D King: International Laws in Cyberspace

The unprecedented growth, connectivity, and application of information technology have radically altered the way individuals communicate with each other across the globe says William D King. Today it is possible for anyone with an internet connection to download information from every corner of the world in a matter of minutes. The widespread use of distributed computing also allows users to collaborate on massive multi-participant projects over the Internet that are limited only by technical capabilities. Moreover, the ability to collect huge amounts of data on internet users can be used for “big data” analysis which has become an integral part of many industries’ business models.

These advances in interconnectivity have dramatically changed how people interact with one another; however they have not yet significantly influenced either how states relate to one another or what behavior states consider to be legitimate or illegitimate on the world stage. The current international legal framework was developed long before information technology advanced to its present state and thus is ill-equipped to deal with issues that arise from these advancements.

In particular, the following two concerns stand out:

  • First, many of the existing rules developed by states for regulating electronic communications are outdate and therefore do not reflect the latest technological developments. For example, some nations have used their control over Internet infrastructure to block citizens’ access to sites hosted in other countries; yet current international law does not adequately address this issue because it was design to regulate traditional forms of telecommunications between fix terminals that requires a rigid physical connection across borders (i.e., landline telephone calls). This problem could be rectified in part by updating the International Telecommunication Regulations to include guidelines for providers of internet infrastructure explains William D King.
  • Second, when cyber operations cross international boundaries, it can be difficult (if not impossible) to determine which nation should be responsible for regulating them; this is due both to jurisdictional limitations and to the fact that it is sometimes technically unclear whether an operation was conduct inside or outside a particular country’s borders. This problem might best be address through multilateral agreements between states including mutual assistance provisions so that if one country suffers a significant cyber incident then others could step in to help investigate the crime and/or punish the attackers without fear of violating international law.

Currently, many countries are still reluctant to sign up for these types of treaties because they do not trust other nations to reciprocate their assistance or because they are afraid of being hold responsible for cyber incidents that have took place within their borders. The United States can help solve this problem by offering its assistance to other states on a case-by-case basis rather than waiting for another nation’s government to request it. Such an approach could help convince other nations that the United States is not interest in exploiting this new form of power but instead genuinely seeks to collaborate with them in order to improve global security.

With the rapid development of information technology comes many opportunities, yet these technologies also pose serious threats if they fall into the wrong hands. Fortunately, there are steps that states can take now at both the national and international level that will better prepare them for these new challenges.

The United States should take the lead by offering other nations assistance in developing cyber infrastructure, increasing their capabilities for investigating cyber crimes, and creating international agreements aimed at mitigating the risk of attacks that span across national borders. This would promote a safer cyberspace for all states by strengthening the global justice regime without prohibiting or unduly restricting legitimate uses of information technology.


The United States has a significant interest in promoting the development of an effective regime for governing cyberspace says William D King. By improving its own capabilities and offering assistance to other nations. It will help ensure that this new form of power is use responsibly and create the necessary conditions for building a more stable and secure global community:

The United States should cooperate with foreign governments to establish clear guidelines regarding cyber attacks.

The international community needs to take steps now in order to better prepare for future cyber threats.

Cyber infrastructure within each nation needs to be improve. In order to better protect against hacking or other forms of electronic crimes.