Bipartisan House bill would save State Department’s cyber office

Bipartisan House bill would save State Department’s cyber office
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of lawmakers offered a bill Thursday to improve diplomacy on cyber issues, including by saving the State Department's beleaguered Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues. 

The offic, is on the chopping block in Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWhite House: Trump will not meet formally with Putin Trump meeting with Putin expected to take place Friday: report Flake: 'Conspiracy theorist' Flynn never belonged as national security adviser MORE’s plans to contract and consolidate the State Department’s offices.

Critics say plans to reassign the responsibilities to an office devoted to business issues will leave the U.S. unprepared as cyber diplomacy grows more important. 

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“The U.S. cannot lead on international cyber issues if we don’t have anyone sitting at the negotiating table or a clearly-defined strategy to guide them," wrote Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) in a statement on the legislation.  

"Rather than help the situation, the Trump Administration has made the mind-boggling decision to wind-down the already limited work the State Department conducts on cyber issues.”

The Cyber Diplomacy Act was headed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Elliott Engel (D-N.Y.). 

Other provisions would require White House updates on negotiated cyber deals and a clarification that it is U.S. cyber policy to “promote an open, interoperable, reliable, unfettered, and secure internet governed by the multistakeholder model which promotes human rights, democracy, and rule of law, including freedom of expression, innovation, communication, and economic prosperity while respecting privacy and guarding against deception."