Cybersecurity

State Department formally launches new cyber bureau

The State Department launched its new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy on Monday in what it says is a modernization of the agency aimed at emerging technology issues in diplomacy.

A statement issued by the department said the bureau will address “the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy.”

It will consist of three policy units, including international cyberspace security, international information and communications policy, and digital freedom.

The bureau will eventually be led by a Senate-confirmed ambassador-at-large. Jennifer Bachus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, will serve as principal deputy assistant secretary, leading the bureau until an appointee is confirmed.

Other positions announced on Monday include Michele Markoff, who will serve as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Cyberspace Security, Stephen Anderson as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Information and Communications Policy, and Blake Peterson as Acting Digital Freedom Coordinator.

The Hill has reached out to the State Department for comment.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the creation of the new bureau in October last year and said both the head of the new bureau and the new special envoy would report to Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman for the first year.

The State Department said it will also focus on hiring individuals with science and technology expertise to address emerging threats. 

“By taking these steps, we will be better able to make sure that the United States remains the world’s innovation leader and standard setter,” Blinken said last year.

The new bureau is being established over four years after former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson merged the former Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues with another State Department office, drawing widespread criticism that the move could undermine the department’s cyber diplomacy efforts. 

In response, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the establishment of the Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technology in the final days of the Trump administration, but experts criticized the move for being rushed and the setup of the office poorly planned out. 

Tags Antony Blinken Antony Blinken cyber security Rex Tillerson state department Wendy Sherman

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