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Brad Smith of Microsoft. Free handout.

In a speech at a United Nations event in Geneva on Thursday, Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer of Microsoft Corp. sounded the alarm on cybersecurity and called for the global community, including tech companies, to come together to create a new accord that would help protect civilians and their data.

He said that much like the nations that came together at the 1949 Geneva Conventions following the Second World War to produce international law standards for the treatment of civilians in the context of war, governments and companies need to agree on principles that will keep civilians safe who are caught in the crossfire of cyberattacks.

“The world needs a new digital Geneva Convention, it needs new rules of the road,” Smith said at the Geneva Lecture Series. “What we need, we believe, is an approach that governments will adopt that says they will not attack civilians in times of peace. They will not attack hospitals, they will not attack the electrical grid, they will not attack the political processes of other countries, they will not use cyberweapons to steal the intellectual property of private companies, that they instead will work together to help each other and the private sector respond when there are cyberattacks.”

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