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State Department Announces Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy

The newly created bureau will help shape norms of responsible government behavior in cyberspace and help US allies bolster their own cybersecurity programs.

The US Department of State’s newly created Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy (CDP) began operations on Monday. The CDP bureau will address the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for US values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy. The bureau will focus on incorporating emerging technologies into policy decisions.

The new cybersecurity bureau reflects the growing importance of cybersecurity in national policy, economy, and defense. The CDP bureau includes three policy units: International Cyberspace Security, International Information and Communications Policy, and Digital Freedom, says the State Department. The State Department expects to have 100 people working at the bureau by the end of the year. The new office will also play a key role in the digital modernization of the federal government.

The bureau marks the return of a high-ranking cyber diplomat in the federal government, after the Trump Administration eliminated the cybersecurity role a few years ago.

The chief will be a Senate-confirmed Ambassador-at-Large position. Jennifer Bachus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and previously the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, will be the Senior Bureau Official. Bachus will serve in this capacity until the Ambassador-at-Large is confirmed.

"I will work hard to make sure the bureau is appropriately structured and staffed for its mission: to elevate cyber and digital diplomacy globally, and to prioritize this work here in Washington and at our embassies and consulates," Bachus told State Department colleagues, according to CNN.

Other key positions are:

  • Michele Markoff, as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Cyberspace Security. Markoff has been the senior State Department subject matter expert overseeing the development and implementation of foreign policy initiatives on cyberspace issues since 1998.
  • Stephen Anderson, as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Information and Communications Policy. Anderson will lead development of international Internet, data, and privacy policies and related negotiations with foreign governments. Anderson was previously the director of the Office of Specialized and Technical Agencies in the State Department’s Bureau for International Organization Affairs.
  • Blake Peterson, as Acting Digital Freedom Coordinator. Peterson previously served as the advisor on Internet governance in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs and as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Secretary, where she focused on integrating gender equity into national security policy and operations.

The creation of the CDP bureau was originally announced in October.

"On cyberspace and emerging technologies, we have a major stake in shaping the digital revolution that's happening around us and making sure that it serves our people, protects our interests, boosts our competitiveness and upholds our values," Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement back in October. "We want to prevent cyber attacks that put our people, our networks, companies and critical infrastructure at risk. We want the internet to remain a transformative force for learning, for connection, for economic growth, not a tool of repression. We want to shape the standards that govern new technology, so they ensure quality, protect consumer health and safety, facilitate trade, [and] respect people's rights."

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