Editors:
P.J. Blount
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Mahulena Hofmann
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Access to and uses of space technology have changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Traditionally, access to space capabilities required dedicated receivers and significant investment. This has changed with the advent of new information technologies that incorporate and disseminate the benefits of space directly to users. This new seamless delivery of space capabilities, from navigation and position to data flows of various types, means that it can be difficult to disentangle space capabilities from other information infrastructures. This also means that the legal structures developed to govern space technologies are being forced into contact with a variety of other legal structures. As new markets, innovative technologies, and increased data access emerge, legal questions abound as the lex specialis of space accommodates these trends. This book investigates how traditional space law is developing as space technology enters the daily lives of individuals everywhere, and how other bodies of law adapt to their interfaces with space technology.

The discourse on space law has lagged behind the swift march of technology. For example, the potential for the delivery of broadband Internet through broadcast satellites was first demonstrated in 1996.1 Only recently, however, have scholars begun to seriously address how network technologies affect the assumptions that underlay the legal framework for space. This book seeks to fill gaps in the literature by examining legal issues that arise from the embedding of the space segment into the networked world at large. Separated into three sections, it includes interdisciplinary chapters from leading and emerging scholars that detail legal issues that result from the risks and opportunities of the digital networking of space technology.

Section i focuses on the issue of cybersecurity for space assets and the needs of a legal practitioner overseeing cybersecurity in the space domain. Cybersecurity has become a dominant risk for space operations of all types. While much of the cybersecurity enterprise is purely technical, law and legal processes play an important role in defining how organizations pursue cyber secure space operations. This section examines the interplay of the technical and legal aspects of cybersecurity in the space domain. Section i opens with a Chapter titled “A Network of Governance,” in which p.j. Blount reflects on the nature of the governance systems that often underlay or supplement legal systems. He argues that the trend of rapidly changing technology, and specifically cyber and network technologies, result in a situation wherein legal practitioners must be more adept in navigating broader governance frameworks that contextualize the content and application of the law. He uses cybersecurity for space assets as an example of this phenomenon that illustrates the rise of governance with legal practice. He concludes that, as a result, space law can no longer remain as an isolated branch of the international legal system, and it will soon be part of a network of governance that extends far outside the bounds of space activities. Andre Adelsbach et al. present a technical assessment of the cybersecurity risks posed to space architecture. Specifically, they survey known cyber-incidents in the space domain and show how changes in network technology have increased those risks. Through an examination of the notions of cybersecurity and risk, they evaluate the various attack vectors and actors that place networked space infrastructures at risk of cyber-exploits and attacks. Sébastien Bonnart et al. give a broad picture of the hostile cyber operations by mapping the cybersecurity threat surface and examining both legal and technical solutions to these challenges. They differentiate between various levels ranging from unauthorized access to classified information to the outage of critical infrastructure. They describe the attributability process and discuss the means of implementing the ‘States of origin’ principle and the transit of States responsibility. They argue that any generalization of legal consequences is difficult, and that rather the specifics of incidents – motives, target and actors – are the operable variables in determining the applicability of already existing national and international legal systems. In the final chapter of this section, Rada Popova rightly observes that space law does not at all mention cyberspace, but some of its norms might be applicable to the cybersecurity of space technology and space activities. The existing cyber-related elements in international law as well as in some regional legal instruments do not offer a specific normative body to ensure that space assets are legally regulated and protected from cyber interference. Thus, for the time being, the law does not provide legal solutions to the challenges posed to space operations generally and to New Space technologies.

Section ii explores the trends of connectivity and accessibility that have been enabled by a number of advances in space technology. The section seeks to engage with the opportunities made possible by developing technologies and examines the role the law plays in ensuring that the space segment is maintained as a critical part of the global network contributing to connecting the world. Simona Spassova explores the difference between harmful interference – a degradation of signal in radiocommunication service – and cyber-attacks based on the transfer of electronic communication under the Radio Regulations of the International Telecommunication Union (itu). Her analysis focuses on the fact that the cyber-environment has a non-physical dimension and is ruled by human-made laws such as computer code. This stands in contrast to the electromagnetic spectrum, which consists of the range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation and is ruled by the law of physics. This difference is critical in understanding how itu rules apply to these types of interference. Marco Crepaldi et al. concentrate on CubeSat operations and the implications software design for liability. They explain that while hardware standardization of cubesats has progressed, the standards for software are not fully developed, and that some common software could have dependability issues. The authors suggest that launching States of cubesats should consider including in their authorization processes measures for ensuring that the critical software does not excessively increase the risk associated with their operations thereby mitigating the risk of malfunction and potential liability. Elina Morozova analyses the outcomes of the wrc-19 in regard to non-gso systems, especially to large constellations of small satellites. She notices that in the process of itu registration, the critical condition is the obligation to bring the frequency assignments used by a large constellation into use in the seven years prescribed by the Radio Regulations. This is problematic for large constellations due to the time it takes to build up orbital capacity. She discusses a potential remedy for these systems in the new itu milestone approach which allows for the deployment of satellites in three phases offering more flexibility for both operators and the itu.

Finally, Section iii examines the legal issues associated with data collection from, data transmission through, and data processing in space in light of increasingly powerful computing technologies. The starting point of the chapter written by Leopold Mantl is the fact that big data from space contributes to a range of human activities in the contemporary networked world. One of the most common uses across society is that of geographical information systems (gis), which facilitate an array of functions such as environmental monitoring, land use analysis, and disaster management. The meshing of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (gnss) into these networks presents novel applications for usage of space derived data, including automated transport. It seems, however, that the space origins of the data generated by these structures does not define the legal framework for data generation and distribution. Rather, at the service level, the role of the service provider and the place of service provision are decisive factors for shaping the liability and data protection areas. The amount of data being produced by space assets is constantly increasing, but new computing techniques, such as cloud computing, are keeping pace and offering new ways to store, transfer, and process this data, and these phenomena have important legal consequences. Ingo Baumann and Erik Pelander focused on the legal aspects of storage, access, and processing of Earth observation (eo) data through cloud infrastructures. They enumerate the main open issues related to this activity – the security of data, privacy, and ownership of the data. The authors observe that the expansion of eo cloud platforms is slowed by untransparent contractual terms, which remain highly individualized and complex. Concerning the plans to launch satellite constellations for satellite-based cloud servers, they see as justified the doubts that the use of such systems may have extra-jurisdictional impacts, enforced by the high-level analysis of ownership and privacy concerning the data stored or used in such clouds. European Union data protection in relation to space activities is the focus of Laura Keogh. She notes that space activities such as remote sensing can produce personal data and fall within the scope of the legal norms designed to protect individual rights in personal data. However, the recognition of privacy by the space sector should not pose a problem if the space architecture is designed with the goal of protecting the privacy of individuals. Sandra Cabrera Alvarado investigates the question of the mechanism of access to data of the European Union Copernicus programme. Her chapter delves into the legally mandated “open data” policy and seeks to define its major elements of ‘full,’ ‘free,’ and ‘open,’ and how these are manifested through the Copernicus distribution mechanisms enshrined in various levels of binding or non-binding documents.

In this place, the editors would like to thank all authors for their valuable contributions, as well ses and the University Luxembourg for their continuous support.

Mahulena Hofmann

P.J. Blount

1

Horst D. Clausen, Hilmar Linder, and Bernhard Collini-Nocker, “Internet over Direct Broadcast Satellites,” ieee Communications Magazine 37, no. 6 (1999): 146–51.

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