Often, private companies are compelled in some manner to do the job of censorship and surveillance in order to operate in a particular jurisdiction, as evidenced most prominently by the collusion of western search engines, such as Google (up until January 2010), Microsoft and Yahoo, in China’s internet censorship practices.
Failure to distinguish between real acts of war and other malicious behavior not only increases the risks of war, but also distracts us from more immediate threats such as online crime. Before we plunge into a Cold War-style arms race with perceived online enemies, we should engage in a public dialog and decide exactly what cyberwar is, who should fight it and how to do it.
Words have consequences. War entails specific risks and responsibilities and should not be entered into lightly. The Constitution lays out requirements for engaging in war, and the United States is a signatory to treaties that impose legal restrictions on conducting warfare, such as distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants and military and non-military targets. And once a nation engages in an act of war, it invites retaliation, regardless of its motives.
As of now, we have no workable definition of what constitutes cyberwar, and more often than not we lack the ability to accurately distinguish it from act of online vandalism.