Microsoft, Facebook, and other tech companies pledge to never help governments launch cyberattacks

Almost all the companies on board are US-based, though

Thirty-four major technology companies — including Facebook, Microsoft, HP, ARM, Cisco, and Oracle — have signed a new Cybersecurity Tech Accord. The pledge spans helping to protect against cyberattacks as well as to not helping governments — including the United States — “launch cyberattacks against innocent citizens and enterprises,” as first reported by The New York Times.

According to the NYT, the driving impetus for the coalition has been Microsoft president Brad Smith, whose goal is, ultimately, to develop a “digital Geneva Convention” to set the rules for acceptable digital warfare. As listed in the accord, there are four areas that the signed companies are promising to improve upon: helping to protect customers from future attacks, refusing to assist governments in launching attacks, working to improve the ability of developers and customers to protect themselves, and collectively working to collaborate and share vulnerabilities and threats.

It’s a good start, but as The New York Times points out, it’s still a very limited agreement that doesn’t include several major companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon. It’s also almost entirely composed of companies from the US. That means that companies from Russia, North Korea, Iran, or China — who would, in theory, be suspect to the greatest risk of assisting their governments to develop malicious digital hardware and software — aren’t making that same pledge.