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President of Estonia: international law applies also in cyber space

President of Estonia: international law applies also in cyber space © Kristi Sits

29.05.2019

In the keynote speech of the cyber security conference CyCon 2019 President Kersti Kaljulaid today introduced the Estonian official position on how international law applies in cyber space.

According to the Estonian head of state the main principle is that international law does apply also in the cyber space. “From that principle also the rights and responsibilities of states are derived, as are states’ duties to avoid the use of their territory to attack other countries, the principles of attribution and right to use countermeasures and self-defense,” President Kaljulaid stated.

The President noted that similar declarations have already been made by other countries and international organizations and Estonia itself has already done a lot on the issue. “Therefor last year I summoned the best Estonian cyber law experts who agreed that it’s time to also compile the official Estonian position,” the Estonian head of state said.

Kaljulaid reminded that in the case of conventional activities breaching international law has always clear and known consequences. “For some reasons the same principles remain ambiguous in the cyber domain, to say the least. Therefor the Estonian position is our contribution in clarifying this situation,” President Kaljulaid explained. “The position also help our own cyber experts in everyday operations and drafting our own Rules of Engagement. It might also carry some deterring effects as we now have more clarity in how we perceive and react to cyber operations in the future.”

The Estonian position on how international law applies in cyber space was compiled by experts from the Estonian foreign, defense and economics ministries, Estonian Information System Authority and the NATO CCDCOE and approved by the Estonian government two weeks ago.

Full text of the speech.

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