or, “Cyberspace and the Viet Cong…”. I’ve been reading through some of the excellent Opinio Juris book discussion on Kal Raustaria’s Does the Constitution Follow the Flag? The Evolution Of Territoriality in American Law (OUP, 2009). Tim Zick’s post on Cyber-Territoriality really caught my attention, particular with this quote from a June NYT report on cyberspace and privacy:
…the Defense Department views cyberspace as its domain as well, a new battleground after land, sea, air and space. The complications are not limited to privacy concerns. The Pentagon is increasingly worried about the diplomatic ramifications of being forced to use the computer networks of many other nations while carrying out digital missions — the computer equivalent of the Vietnam War’s spilling over the Cambodian border in the 1960s. To battle Russian hackers, for example, it might be necessary to act through the virtual cyberterritory of Britain or Germany or any country where the attack was routed.
I want to cry eureka. The reference to cross-border operations during the Vietnam War is genius, even if the follow-on explanation is a bit iffy. The Vietcong used Cambodia and Laos as sanctuary – of the traditional, Maoist, guerrilla variant. It makes the connection between much less convincing contemporary assertions about cyberspace as terrorist sanctuary and militant use of sanctuary more generally. Need to explore this one further.