Table of Contents

Research Handbook on International Law and Cyberspace

Research Handbook on International Law and Cyberspace

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Nicholas Tsagourias and Russell Buchan

This timely Research Handbook contains an analysis of various legal questions concerning cyberspace and cyber activities and provides a critical account of their effectiveness. Expert contributors examine the application of fundamental international law principles to cyberspace such as sovereignty, jurisdiction, state responsibility, individual criminal responsibility, and intellectual property rights. In addition to this, they explore the application of international law rules to cyber terrorism, cyber espionage, cyber crime, cyber attacks and cyber war and discuss the cyber security policies of international and regional institutions.

Chapter 1: The legal status of cyberspace

Nicholas Tsagourias

Subjects: law - academic, internet and technology law, public international law, regulation and governance, terrorism and security law


This chapter examines the legal status of cyberspace in international law. It claims that cyberspace cannot be sovereign because it lacks those ingredients, such as a ‘people’ and the attendant institutional and legal mechanisms to support such a claim. Instead, states are able to exercise sovereignty and thus jurisdiction over persons, objects and actions in cyberspace because sovereignty, connoting authority and power, is not in principle dependent on territory. The chapter then goes on to discuss the representation of cyberspace as a global commons (res communis) but argues that cyberspace does not satisfy the physical, political and legal conditions to warrant such designation. The chapter concludes by suggesting a global treaty to regulate cyberspace, yet it explains the reasons as to why such a treaty is not possible at this stage.