Microsoft President Brad Smith is calling for the creation of a digital convention, saying it’s time “to call on the world’s governments to implement international rules to protect the civilian use of the internet.”
Citing a rash of “cyber-attacks mounted for financial gain” and “new nation-state attacks,” Smith said tech companies should play the role of savior against such increasingly frequent incidents.
“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,” he wrote in a Tuesday blog post.
“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,” he added.
Smith, who also serves as Microsoft’s chief legal officer, proposed that such a digital convention would lay out a generally accepted set of international protocols .
Smith also called on the U.S. government to step up its international cybersecurity efforts, pointing to a 2015 agreement between China and the U.S. in which both countries agreed to refrain from engaging in cyber theft of intellectual property.
“Just as the United States and China overcame mutual challenges and made important progress in 2015 to ban intellectual property cyber-theft, the United States and Russia can hammer out a future agreement to ban the nation-state hacking of all the civilian aspects of our economic and political infrastructures,” Smith wrote.
A rash of high-profile digital attacks in the past year has prompted lawmakers to take a closer look at cybersecurity.
Earlier this month, Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee, and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Star gymnasts call on Congress to dissolve US Olympics board Expats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines MORE (R-Kan.), chairman of the panel's consumer protection and data security subcommittee, sent a letter to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer requesting details on the company’s two massive cybersecurity breaches at the end of 2016.
In November, the House Subcommittee on communications and technology held a hearing to review the botnet attack on Dyn, a domain name service provider. The cyberattack took down major websites such as Spotify, Airbnb and The New York Times.
Lawmakers have expressed interest in ramping up cybersecurity measures, but are hesitant of regulation due to fears of stifling innovation.