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International Criminal Court will now prosecute cyberwar crimes: ICC lead prosecutor

Emphasizing cooperation as the key, the prosecutor mentioned that Microsoft and ICC will jointly convene a cybercrimes-focused event this autumn.

Karim A.A. Khan KC, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), wrote in a story for Foreign Policy Analytics that the ICC will now prosecute cyberwar crimes as well. In the post titled “Technology will not exceed our humanity,” the lead prosecutor says that cyberspace is a “new and rapidly developing means of statecraft and warfare” and therefore, international criminal justice must adapt to this new landscape.

Why it matters: For years, many have been calling for a kind of Geneva convention for cyberwar. While forums have been established to regulate artificial intelligence, not much has been created on cybercrimes at the international level. This is when businesses have been affected and health repositories leaked. The data scraping aspect of AI and machine learning increases the risk intensity of cybercrimes.

Looking at the timing, Wired speculates that the ICC’s stance of waiting for specific guidance on cybercrimes changing to make do with what it has got might have something to do with the “growing international focus on Russia’s cyberattacks targeting Ukraine.” While that is entirely possible, the decision remains timely either way. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also stressed the need for global cooperation to deal with cybercrimes since they can have significant social and geopolitical implications.

What’s the plan? Reiterating his concerns around such a state of affairs, Khan announced that the ICC will investigate and prosecute any cybercrimes that violate existing international law, just as it does for war crimes committed in the physical world. Since there is no specific provision for cybercrime in the Rome Statute, according to Khan, his office will address cybercrimes under already defined elements of many core international crimes in the statute, for instance, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Emphasizing cooperation as the key, Khan mentioned that Microsoft and ICC will jointly convene a cybercrimes-focused event this autumn. The discussion amongst the expert stakeholders across the private and public sectors at the event will feed into the development of a policy paper.

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