January 12, 2022

Geopolitics Keeps Overruling Cyber Norms, So What’s the Alternative?

By Laura G. Brent

Whenever a new technology emerges as a national security issue, governments want to establish norms of behavior. We are seeing it with AI, with unmanned systems, with hypersonic technology — and we have seen it with cyberspace.

Setting norms can be useful. The process itself can have benefits: it requires governments to communicate and develop a better understanding of how different nations view challenging issues. When norms are agreed upon, even if voluntary and non-binding, they can make explicit what may be mutually beneficial to states.

Once governments accept the limits of political cyber norms, they can then adapt to the messier reality of cyberspace today.

Norms, however, will always struggle when they begin to hit up against the core interests of the nations involved. As cyberspace is now intrinsically tied into traditional geopolitical contests and conflicts—that is, core interests — norms can alter behavior only so much. But hope is not lost: Once governments accept the limits of political cyber norms, they can then adapt to the messier reality of cyberspace today.

Read the full article from Breaking Defense.

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