Hofstra Law Review

Article Title

The Cyber Civil War


Eldar Haber


Public and private actors engage in cyber warfare. In the private field, the role of individuals is rather limited: Individuals are usually either hackers or targets of cyber crimes. This paradigm could change soon, as individuals might now face a new threat: Information. In 2014, a group of hackers launched a cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, and released, inter alia, personally identifiable information on their employees, including email correspondence and information about executive salaries. This incident revealed a terrifying new reality: Cyber attacks could result in a revelation of our entire personal information held by third parties. Emails, search queries, credit card numbers, purchase history, and anything we do online could be posted for everyone to search and view. How does the U.S. legal system cope with this new information threat? Not well. Current legal measures are insufficient to deal with such new threats. Even if the target can recover monetary damages, legal remedies do not offer removal of most online information. Thus, legal intervention is required.

This Article scrutinizes the new threats to civilians in cyber warfare, emerging mostly from other civilians, and proposes a modest solution to the new informational threat. It examines the two traditional roles civilians play in the digital battlefield, both as attackers and as potential targets. Then, it describes the new threat of cyber warfare to civilians: Dissemination of personal information online. After analyzing the current legal measures available for civilians, and proving their insufficiency, the Article discusses the need for a forgetful Internet by introducing and analyzing the EU’s right to be forgotten. It argues that a right to be forgotten is a dangerous tool that would lead to Internet censorship and therefore proposes a different legal-technological solution that could aid civilians in better coping with the new threat. Without such mechanism, we might be at risk of a digital civil war in cyberspace.

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