20 January 2012. Issue 56 of the "ESPI Perspectives" series makes a comparative study of the evolution of outer space and cyberspace technologies and international regulatory regimes. Through presenting a series of case study examples, it highlights the analogies between the two fields, explaining how they are gradually transformed by technological progress into a unified operational and regulatory field with very similar prospects and future challenges. Furthermore, it argues that the traditional UN system may not be sufficient any more to cope with these changes and that new approaches, such as the EU Code of Conduct, may be required to organise and regulate activities in the combined outer space and cyberspace medium.
Until the 1980s, outer space and cyberspace (i.e. telecommunication) were accessible predominately to governmental entities or their licensed monopolist operators, an arrangement that enjoyed tight congruencies with long-standing UN jurisdictional competencies and governance mechanisms. By the late 1980s, technological and neo-liberal regulatory trends, shifts in strategic doctrine and growing concerns about orbital and spectrum sustainability emerged as salient factors requiring a re-thinking of how to manage and regulate the outer space and cyberspace realms being used and populated by an increasingly diverse range of military, civilian and commercial entities and services. In contrast to environmental regimes (e.g. law of the sea, Arctic, climate change and biodiversity, among others) that have steadily expanded the range of their legal and institutional jurisdictions within the UN system, the same cannot be said for the actions of the scientific-technological powers, which show a mounting willingness to develop mechanisms for outer space and cyberspace governance outside of the UN system. This paper argues that the seamless technological integration of space systems with cyberspace infrastructures to achieve goals expressed in cyberwar strategic doctrine is also acting to merge the outer space-cyberspace governance domains through a process of ad hoc agreements outside conventional UN legal mechanisms. The on-going negotiations both within and between governments over the European Union’s Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities is but the latest example of this trend.
Larry Martinez, author of “ESPI Perspectives 56”
Larry Martinez was born in Covina, California, in 1953. He is Professor of Political Science at the California State University at Long Beach. After completing his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1984, he joined the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce where he participated in developing the “rules of the road” for the first private international satellite networks. In 1988, he was appointed to the Department of Political Science at the California State University, Long Beach, where he researches and teaches in the areas of international relations and law, with a research focus on cyberspace policy. In 1998-99, Martinez was a Fulbright Senior Research fellow at the Centre of Technology Assessment in Stuttgart, Germany. His article, “Science in Service of Power: Space Exploration Initiatives as Catalysts of Regime Evolution,” published in Air and Space Law (Netherlands: Kluwer, 2007), argues that the scientific community will play an increasingly visible and salient role in shaping global legal regimes for the internet, climate, and outer space. He has lectured on internet policy and governance in the U.K., Germany, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Ecuador. In 2007, he was the Cuesta College Honoured Alumnus of the Year.