Brad Smith, the president of Microsoft, expressed his worry over tech companies being thrown into battle when countries go to war.
“Let’s face it, cyberspace is the new battlefield,” Smith said at the RSA computer security conference, according to USA Today.
Smith is concerned that people and civilian infrastructure like the electric grid will be vulnerable to digital attacks. He wants governments around the world to promise not engage in such attacks, and for the rest of the tech world to abstain from assisting in such forms of warfare.
“The tech sector plays a unique role as the internet’s first responders,” Smith wrote in an official blog post that extensively adds to his comments at the conference.
“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.”
Smith suggested a “digital Geneva Convention” in which the tech industry works together to set guidelines for when and how to interject if world leaders carry out massive hacks — an apparent reference to the international agreements made after World War II.
He listed some examples of alleged nation-state cyber attacks, including “the Sony attack by North Korea in 2014″ and “cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property” by China.
“We will assist and protect customers everywhere. We will not aid in attacking customers anywhere. We need to retain the world’s trust,” urged Smith.
“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.”