The use of smartphones, apps, social media and other methods of digital communication between people is constantly on the increase. This practice has extended into armed conflicts, where parties to the conflicts use such tools for both internal and external communications. Is international humanitarian law (IHL) applicable to the employment of these new technologies during armed conflict—and if so, how?

In this post, the author suggests that the development of information and communication technology, including social media, has provided parties to armed conflicts with new possibilities, not the least when it comes to interaction with the civilian population. This interaction, it is suggested, adds a new dimension to a concept known as military influence operations. As such, its legality must be thoroughly considered in order to minimise civilian harm in armed conflict. A case study—where parties to the conflict employ modern information and communication technology to encourage intelligence gathering by civilians—is used to demonstrate potential legal issues.

******

You can read the full story on the ICRC’s Law and Policy Blog here.