There are international regulations and agreed upon laws for how a nation is supposed to act during peace and wartime. This means protecting the rights of citizens and other civilians during a time of conflict. These policies were created back at the Geneva Convention following World War II, but Microsoft president Brad Smith now wants 21st century version for digital warfare.
Tech companies are put in a difficult position when their hardware is used in a cyber attack. In light of this, Smith believes technology must be "100% defense and 0% offense." The keynote speech calling for this "digital Geneva Convention" was given at the RSA security conference. This could be interpreted as saying that tech companies should not aid any government in designing exploits, vulnerabilities, backdoors, or any type of attack aimed at other nations. Instead, they should focus their efforts on securing their products against misuse.
Smith proposed establishing practices and procedures for how fellow tech companies should react and deal with cyber attacks aimed at civilians.
A governing body would be created to oversee the industry to ensure the tech sector remains open and neutral. Microsoft's President emphasized his view that the industry should "not aid in attacking customers anywhere" and that they "need to retain the world's trust."
Tech companies must be the first to respond when cyber attacks happen, but they "cannot and must not, respond in kind, or aid governments in going on the offensive" Smith stated.
The keynote comes amid increasingly high profile privacy and security issues around the globe. The North Korean hack of Sony Pictures and Russia's alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election have been worrisome to tech leaders since they represent cross-border attacks.