Protecting civilians against digital threats: 4 worrying trends and recommendations to address them
In situations of armed conflict, access to digital technology can save lives. But the use of cyber, information, and other digital operations by belligerents during armed conflict also brings new threats and risks for civilians. Think about cyber operations disrupting civilian infrastructure and services, information operations inciting violence against civilian populations, and digital operations undermining humanitarian relief efforts. In ever-more interdependent digital and physical environments, civilians and civilian infrastructure are increasingly drawn upon to support military operations and, as a result, face real risks of being targeted. As digital technologies permeate our lives and societies, cyber and information operations are no longer abstract or “only online”. They can, directly or indirectly, have serious online and ‘offline’ consequences and harm people.
Between 2021 and 2023, the International Committee of the Red Cross’ (ICRC) President convened a Global Advisory Board of high-level experts from the legal, military, policy, technological, and security fields to advise the organization on digital threats and to develop concrete recommendations to protect civilians against such threats. Today, this Board released its report entitled ‘Protecting Civilians against Digital Threats During Armed Conflict’. In this post, Cordula Droege (chief legal officer and head of the legal division of the ICRC), Laurent Gisel (Head of the Arms and Conduct of Hostilities Unit of the ICRC), Tilman Rodenhäuser (Legal Adviser at the ICRC) and Joelle Rizk (Digital Risks Adviser at the ICRC) present four worrying trends the Board identified, and examples of the Board’s recommendations to address one of them, namely the growing civilian involvement in digital military operations.
Read the full blog post here: https://blogs.icrc.org/law-and-policy/