Democracy Under The Influence: Paradigms of State Responsibility for Cyber Influence Operations on Elections

By Barrie Sander


Ever since allegations arose of Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election, cyber influence operations have garnered worldwide attention. This article examines the different options available under international law for holding States responsible for cyber influence operations on elections. To this end, the article first elaborates a typology of different cyber election meddling techniques, before examining three paradigms of international law that may be relied upon to frame State responses to cyber influence operations—the general public international law paradigm, the human rights paradigm, and the State liability paradigm. The article concludes by considering why States have so far avoided the vocabulary of international law in formulating their responses to cyber influence operations and offers a suggestion as to where international law may have a more central role to play in this context in the future.

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Source: Chinese Journal of International Law

Originally published on 21 February 2019