Microsoft Calls for Digital Geneva Convention

Microsoft President Brad Smith has called for a Digital Geneva Convention to address the growing threat of state sponsored cyber attacks.

The time has come to call on the world’s governments to come together, affirm international cybersecurity norms that have emerged in recent years, adopt new and binding rules and get to work implementing them. In short, the time has come for governments to adopt a Digital Geneva Convention to protect civilians on the internet.

The six key principles are outlined in the graphic below.


Smith also called for a digital equivalent to the International Atomic Energy Agency that “can investigate and share publicly the evidence that attributes nation-state attacks to specific countries.”

Smith believed that the global tech sector “needs to operate as a neutral Digital Switzerland.”  He explained:

 We will assist and protect customers everywhere.  We will not aid in attacking customers anywhere.  We need to retain the world’s trust.  And every government regardless of its policies or politics needs a national and global IT infrastructure that it can trust.

This commitment to 100 percent defense and zero percent offense has been fundamental to our approach as a company and an industry. And it needs to remain this way in the future.


The tech industry, which has connected the world

in ways that can promote mutual understanding and respect [must now] harness this global understanding to protect people everywhere, earning their confidence as the world’s Digital Switzerland.

Smith stressed

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.

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