Major Tech Companies Pledge To Never Help Governments Launch Cyber Attacks

Thirty-four major technology companies have signed what the New York Times calls the “Digital Geneva Accord.”

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord, to quote the official website, is a “public commitment among 34 global companies to protect and empower civilians online and to improve the security, stability and resilience of cyberspace.”

As the New York Times pointed out, this might signal that Silicon Valley is making a conscious effort to distance itself from the government. Announced today, the Cybersecurity Tech Accord explicitly states the following.

“The companies will not help governments launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens and enterprises, and will protect against tampering or exploitation of their products and services through every stage of technology development, design and distribution.”

Apart from that, the companies pledged to protect all consumers globally and regardless of the motivation for cyber attacks. The 34 companies include giants such as Facebook, Cisco, Microsoft, Nokia, and Oracle. Earlier this month, a letter signed by thousands of Google employees was made available to the public. In it, the signees argued that Google “should not be in the business of war.”

The newly signed Cybersecurity Tech Accord clearly indicates that 33 other companies think alike.

“We’re living amidst a generation of new weapons, and where cyberspace has become the new battlefield,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said during a speech today, Reuters reported.

Mr. Smith led the efforts to organize this Silicon Valley alliance.

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord follows a year that witnessed devastatingly destructive cyber attacks. One of them, a ransomware cryptoworm dubbed WannaCry, lasted for three days, starting on May 12, 2017. WannaCry targeted Windows-powered devices. The cryptoworm would infect devices, encrypt data, and extort ransom payments. According to Reuters, it may have netted North Korean hacker groups — which are thought to be behind the attack — millions in virtual currencies.

Another ransomware cryptowowm, NotPetya — which was first spotted in June of 2017, when it had attacked various Ukrainian companies — is thought to have caused billions of dollars in damages all across Europe and the United States. According to the Guardian, the United States and the United Kingdom both blame Russia for the attack. Moscow denied this, calling such claims “Russophobic.”

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord is meant to unite companies in preventing cyber attacks, but it also forbids them from aiding governments in committing them.

No government has officially responded to tech companies officially uniting in disobeying them, so to speak. At the Future of War conference, hosted by the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., on April 9, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Mike Griffin, stressed that the United States needs to join the international artificial intelligence arms race.

At the same conference, as the Inquisitr reported, General Stephen W. Wilson, the Air Force vice chief of staff, downplayed the concerns Google employees had expressed, perhaps signaling that governments are not ready to give up on Silicon Valley just yet. It remains to be seen whether the Cybersecurity Tech Accord will force them to do so.