Week ahead: Lawmakers zero in on cyber diplomacy

Week ahead: Lawmakers zero in on cyber diplomacy
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A panel of House lawmakers is set to explore how the United States engages with the international community on cybersecurity, a meeting that will feature testimony from the government's former top cyber diplomat.

The hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, is the latest congressional effort to put an emphasis on cyber engagement abroad in the evolving digital age.

"Authoritarian regimes and foreign actors are working overtime to impose more control online, including through censorship," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ed RoyceEdward (Ed) Randall RoyceFormer GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lawmakers propose banning shark fin trade Bottom Line MORE (R-Calif.) said when announcing the hearing. "These destructive efforts to weaponize the internet undermine America's foreign policy and security, as well as our economy.

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"As Americans become more and more connected with digital technology, the United States must ensure the internet remains open, reliable and secure," Royce added.

The hearing follows scrutiny of Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonJuan Williams: The high price of working for Trump Graham jokes to Pompeo: You're the 'longest-serving member of the cabinet, right?' Trump moves to install loyalists MORE's decision to close the Office of Cybersecurity Coordinator at the State Department. As part of a broader reorganization effort, Tillerson folded the office's responsibilities into a bureau focused on economic and business issues.

Lawmakers in both parties have expressed concerns with Tillerson's decision. Earlier this month, House lawmakers passed legislation that would effectively restore the office and give its leader the rank of ambassador.

Chris Painter, the former cybersecurity coordinator, is scheduled to testify before the Foreign Affairs Committee alongside other experts on Tuesday. Painter left his position at the end of July, just before Tillerson formally notified Congress of his plans to close the cybersecurity office.

State Department officials maintain that cyber remains a top priority despite the office's closure. The department's cyber diplomacy efforts are now spearheaded by Rob Strayer at the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

On Thursday, Strayer met with European officials in Brussels as part of the 15th Information Society Dialogue between the European Union and the U.S. on topics that ranged from cybersecurity to international data flows.

Meanwhile, a group of senators is poised to hear testimony in the coming week from a top Uber executive on the ride-share company's 2016 data breach that came to light late last year.

John Flynn, Uber's chief information security officer, is slated to testify before a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee subcommittee on Tuesday. The company faced massive scrutiny over reports that executives paid off the hacker behind the breach through a "bug bounty" program, which rewards researchers for finding previously unknown vulnerabilities.

The coming week is likely to offer further developments stemming from the House Intelligence Committee's decision Friday to release a controversial memo that Republicans say shows the Justice Department's abuse of a critical foreign surveillance program.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRussia's election interference is a problem for the GOP Pence to pitch trade deal during trip to Michigan: report Iran oil minister: US made 'bad mistake' in ending sanctions waivers MORE authorized the memo's release, despite fierce objection from the FBI. The developments have set Republicans and the Trump White House on a collision course with the bureau and the Department of Justice.

Off Capitol Hill, House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulLawmakers join musical stars to celebrate Grammys on the Hill DCCC opens Texas office to protect House pickups, target vulnerable GOP seats GOP, Dems balk at latest Trump foreign aid cuts MORE (R-Texas) will deliver his state of national security address on Monday at George Washington University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security. His remarks are expected to focus on efforts to combat terrorism, border and aviation security and cybersecurity.

On Tuesday, the Atlantic Council is hosting an event on Russian cyber operations targeting Ukraine, which will feature remarks from Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFreshman House Dems surge past GOP in money race DCCC opens Texas office to protect House pickups, target vulnerable GOP seats Dems ramp up subpoena threats MORE (R-Texas) and a Ukrainian government official, along with other expert panelists.

 

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