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Microsoft, Facebook, dozens more sign Cybersecurity Tech Accord

At the start of the RSA conference, major technology firms pledge to protect their users and stay out of government-launched cyber attacks.

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Dozens of major technology companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco, and SAP have signed onto a pledge to protect their users around the globe against cybersecurity threats and to abstain from helping any government launch a cyber attack.

The companies, 34 in total, called the Cybersecurity Tech Accord a "watershed agreement" among companies representing every layer of internet communication.

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"The devastating attacks from the past year demonstrate that cybersecurity is not just about what any single company can do but also about what we can all do together," Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement. "This tech sector accord will help us take a principled path towards more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world."

The accord rests on four pillars: a commitment to building stronger defenses to protect all internet users around the globe; a commitment to oppose any offensive cyber attacks; a pledge to empower people, businesses and developers; and a pledge to work together and with other private and public sector partners to mitigate threats.

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The accord was released at the start of the RSA conference in San Francisco, Calif. At last year's conference, Smith called on world leaders to assemble a "digital Geneva Convention" that would protect civilians from nation-state cyber attacks in times of peace.

In his own blog post on Tuesday, Smith said, "The first step in creating a safer internet must come from our own industry, the enterprises that create and operate the world's online technologies and infrastructure."