Lawmakers praise upcoming establishment of cyber bureau at State

Lawmakers praise upcoming establishment of cyber bureau at State
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Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are praising the upcoming establishment of a new cybersecurity bureau at the State Department, following years of advocacy and escalating global attacks. 

The move to establish a Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, first reported Monday by The Wall Street Journal, would help to resolve criticism around the State Department’s leadership on international cyber diplomacy efforts after the decision by former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHillicon Valley — Blinken unveils new cyber bureau at State Blinken formally announces new State Department cyber bureau Hillicon Valley — TikTok, Snapchat seek to distance themselves from Facebook MORE in 2017 to merge a former cybersecurity office with another bureau. 

Following ongoing criticism of this move, former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE announced the establishment of the Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies days before former President TrumpDonald TrumpBaldwin calls Trump criticism following 'Rust' shooting 'surreal' Haley hits the stump in South Carolina Mary Trump files to dismiss Trump's lawsuit over NYT tax story MORE left office, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle objected to the setup of the office and that its establishment was rushed. 

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State Department spokesperson Ned Price confirmed the upcoming establishment of the new bureau in remarks Monday afternoon, saying that Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — Quick vote on defense bill blocked again Kremlin claims Ukraine may try to win back rebel-controlled regions by force Blinken: Iran actions risk collapse of new talks MORE will formally announce the office during an event on Wednesday.

“Pending consultations with Congress, we plan to establish a Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, led by a Senate-confirmed ambassador at large, which will focus on three key areas: international cyberspace security, international digital policy, and digital freedom,” Price told reporters. “This will integrate the core security, economic, and value components of our cyber agenda.”

“We also plan to establish a new special envoy for critical and emerging technology to lead the immediate technology diplomacy agenda with our allies, partners, and across the range of multilateral forums,” he announced. 

Following the confirmation of the office, lawmakers who have long pushed for greater prioritization of cyber diplomacy at the department celebrated the move. 

These included House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the primary sponsor of the Cyber Diplomacy Act. The bipartisan bill, passed by the House earlier this year, would require the State Department take steps similar to the new efforts set to be announced Wednesday with the goal of elevating cybersecurity at the agency. 

“This is a welcomed announcement from the State Department that is in line with my House-passed Cyber Diplomacy Act,” McCaul said in a statement Tuesday. “I have worked alongside the State Department for the past three years to help ensure the enactment of this bipartisan legislation that gives the Department the necessary structure and tools to better address the growing threats from malign cyber actors.”

“I am hopeful that this latest announcement will help move this much-needed legislation to the President’s desk,” he said. 

Sen. Angus KingAngus KingAmazon, Facebook, other large firms would pay more under proposed minimum tax, Warren's office says Senators look to defense bill to move cybersecurity measures Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices MORE (I-Maine), co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, and commission member Rep. Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinFederal agencies ordered to patch hundreds of vulnerabilities Lawmakers praise upcoming establishment of cyber bureau at State Federal first responders deserve the retirement we promised them MORE (D-R.I.) discussed the new office with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman Monday night, both applauding the move following the phone call. 

“We are in complete alignment with the Biden administration’s approach, which is exactly the kind of move we need to better coordinate cyber diplomacy and set international norms around cybersecurity,” King and Langevin said in a joint statement. 

They noted that they had pressed Sherman and the State Department to continue supporting passage of the Cyber Diplomacy Act to ensure “long-term viability” of the bureau. 

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“We made sure to convey the urgency of passing the Cyber Diplomacy Act to Deputy Secretary Sherman,” the lawmakers said. “We remain committed to working with the State Department and advancing that legislation through the Senate and onto President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE’s desk.”

Christopher Painter, the former coordinator for cybersecurity issues at the State Department under the Obama and Trump administrations prior to his office being merged with another, expressed his support for the way in which the State Department was moving forward on cybersecurity.

“This is a great development and strong structure,” Painter tweeted Monday. “I’ve long said that a new cyber bureau needs cross- cutting authority and be placed at a high level in the organization. This does both — broad & appropriate mandate and reporting to the Deputy Secretary of State.”