The U.S. State Department Monday announced its newly-created Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy (CDP) was operational. The new agency has been devised to enhance the country's ability to work together with other nations on cybersecurity matters.
The CDP is a milestone in Secretary Antony Blinken’s modernization agenda. It will address national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy, according to Washington sources.
Jennifer Bachus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has been appointed as principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau, pending the selection of a Senate-confirmed ambassador-at-Large to head the agency which will consist of around 100 workers. Bachus previously served in the Czech Republic, Kosovo, France, Vietnam, and Jamaica.
The CDP will include three policy units: “cyberspace security,” “international information and communications policy,” and “digital freedom.”
“Democracies must together answer the question of whether universal rights and democratic values will be at the center of our digital lives,” Blinken said.
Under former President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson abolished the Office for the Coordination of Cyber Issues, which had been created during the Barack Obama administration to handle US diplomatic efforts at negotiating the rules and expectations of cyberspace, assigning cybersecurity responsibilities to the much broader Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
The CDP Bureau’s inauguration is one more indicator that cybersecurity remains front and center in international affairs as the US and its allies compete with adversaries like Russia and China.
In the dying days of the Trump administration, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to rectify Trump’s obliteration of a standalone cybersecurity apparatus by creating a new Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET). At the time, Representative Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, blasted Pompeo’s “ill-suited” plan.