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Microsoft's Brad Smith Calls for a 'Digital Geneva Convention' to Protect Civilians

In a blog post published today on Microsoft's website, company President and Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, has raised concerns over escalating cyberattcks over the past year and the need for a Digital Geneva Convention. He wrote: "Just as the Fourth Geneva Convention has long protected civilians in times of war, we now need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace.  And just as the Fourth Geneva Convention recognized that the protection of civilians required the active involvement of the Red Cross, protection against nation-state cyberattacks requires the active assistance of technology companies.  The tech sector plays a unique role as the internet’s first responders, and we therefore should commit ourselves to collective action that will make the internet a safer place, affirming a role as a neutral Digital Switzerland that assists customers everywhere and retains the world’s trust."

Expansion of nation-state attacks: "Perhaps most disconcerting, recent years have witnessed the expansion of nation-state attacks.  The Sony attack by North Korea in 2014 was not the first nation-state attack, but it represented a visible turning point.  While prior attacks had focused on economic and military espionage, the Sony attack in 2014 involved retaliation for free expression in the form of a (not very popular) movie."

The situation worsened in one additional and important way: "For two-thirds of a century, since 1949, the world’s nations have recognized through the Fourth Geneva Convention that they need to adhere to rules that protect civilians in times of war.  But nation-state hacking has evolved into attacks on civilians in times of peace."

Related topics: Cyberattack, Cybercrime, Cybersecurity, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation

 
   

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