DOJ Senior Official Highlights Domestic Law in Defending Cyber Security

Kitty Wang
By Kitty Wang
May 25, 2019US News

The Justice Department is taking action to deal with the increasing scale and seriousness of cyber threats to U.S. national security.

Sujit Raman, Associate Deputy Attorney-General, U.S. Department of Justice said on May 21 that, in the context of the great power competition, international law governing cyberspace is still in its infancy. States usually tend to follow their own rules, especially in the “gray zone” between peace and war.

“For that reason, I will emphasize U.S. domestic law, and the important role that the U.S. Department of Justice, in particular, plays in defending the rule of law in cyberspace, and in promoting global cyber norms,” Raman said.

In 2001, the “Convention on Cybercrime,” also known as the Budapest Convention, was signed by the European Union and the United States, among others. It is the only legally-binding international convention against cyber crime. Neither Russia nor China is a signatory, but 47 other countries are.

As the Chinese regime continues to strengthen its cyber control and promote its “cyber sovereignty” concept, experts believe the regime’s behavior is completely contrary to the requirements of the Convention.

“They don’t want the Budapest convention coming in and allowing judges in France to issue orders for China to be obligated to turn over records,” Rodolfo Orjales, Council of Europe Consultant said. “That’s a huge issue. And there you have two diametrically opposed legal systems that may never come into an agreement.”

Last year, the White House released its “2018 National Cyber Strategy,” to deal with cyber threats. The strategy includes priorities such as to “Encourage Universal Adherence to Cyber Norms” and “Attribute and Deter Unacceptable Behavior in Cyberspace.” Subsequently, the Department of Justice filed criminal charges against two Chinese hackers associated with the Ministry of State Security.

“Without attribution, there will be no consequences . . . and thus, no deterrence. Attribution through the criminal justice system is a powerful way to expose state conduct that violates norms of responsible behavior,” Raman said.

Now the Trump administration is trying to convince more like-minded countries to join the US-led “Cyber Deterrence Initiative,” to muster a collective response to malicious cyber activities from countries such as China and Russia. This, they say, will help establish the legitimacy of those cyber norms and defend their common values.

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