| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Feb 14 Microsoft President Brad
Smith on Tuesday pressed the world's governments to form an
international body to protect against nation-state hacking,
saying recent high-profile attacks showed a need for global
norms that police government activity in cyberspace.
Smith's call for a "Digital Geneva Convention" followed a
2016 U.S. presidential election marred by the hacking and
disclosure of Democratic Party emails that U.S. intelligence
agencies concluded were carried out by Russia in order to help
Republican Donald Trump win.
"Just as the world's governments came together in 1949 to
adopt the Fourth Geneva Convention to protect civilians in times
of war, we need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit
governments to implement the norms needed to protect civilians
on the internet in times of peace," Smith said in a draft of a
blog post seen by Reuters.
Smith was expected to discuss his proposal during keynote
remarks on Tuesday at the RSA cybersecurity conference in San
Cyber attacks have increasingly been used in recent years by
governments to achieve foreign policy or national security
objectives, sometimes in direct support of traditional
battlefield operations. Despite a rise in attacks on
governments, infrastructure and political institutions, few
international agreements currently exist governing acceptable
use of nation-state cyber attacks.
The United States and China signed a bilateral pledge in
2015 to refrain from hacking companies in order to steal
intellectual property. A similar deal was forged months later
among the Group of 20 nations.
A Digital Geneva Convention would benefit from the creation
of an independent organization to investigate and publicly
disclose evidence that attributes nation-state attacks to
specific countries, Smith said in his blog post.
Smith likened such an organization, which would include
technical experts from governments and the private sector, to
the International Atomic Energy Agency, an atomic energy
watchdog based at the United Nations that works to deter the use
of nuclear weapons.
Smith also said the technology sector needed to work
collectively and neutrally to protect internet users around the
world from cyber attacks, including a pledge not to aid
governments in offensive activity and the adoption of a
coordinated disclosure process for software and hardware
"Even in a world of growing nationalism, when it comes to
cybersecurity the global tech sector needs to operate as a
neutral Digital Switzerland," Smith said.
(Reporting by Dustin Volz; Editing by Dan Grebler)