Paul Stephan

Big Data and the Future Law of Armed Conflict in Cyberspace

Oxford University Press


Some who should know argue, and I find plausible, that among these aspects of AI, accumulation and organization of data sets is the most significant. If this claim is right, then increasingly the most valuable property on the planet will be in cyberspace. As a conflict grows in intensity, adversaries will want to protect their property and degrade that of their opponents. The more important big data becomes, the more likely that adversaries will take actions affecting it. Almost inevitably some kind of international law will come into the picture, in the sense that relevant actors will frame claims about what they and others do in terms of international legal arguments. This chapter focuses on the question of jurisdiction or domain, rather than content: Under what circumstances will international lawyers in 2040 look to LOAC, including ius ad bellum, to regulate actions taken in cyberspace involving big data? This focus allows me to avoid considering what particular rules LOAC will apply. Rather, I consider whether LOAC, rather than some other body of international law or exclusively municipal law, might govern particular cyberspace activity.


Paul B. Stephan, Big Data and the Future Law of Armed Conflict in Cyberspace, in Matthew C. Waxman & Thomas Oakley The Future Law of Armed Conflict, Oxford University Press (2022).

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