Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is aiming to revamp the State Department's Cybersecurity Operations, telling a top House Lawmaker Tuesday that he is planning to merge Two existing Offices into a New Bureau that will broadly tackle Cyberspace and Digital Economy Issues.
"The combination of these offices in a new Bureau for Cyberspace and the Digital Economy will align existing resources under a single Department of State official to formulate and coordinate a strategic approach necessary to address current and emerging cyber security and digital economic challenges," Tillerson said in a Tuesday Letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R, CA-39th District). "The Department of State must be organized to lead diplomatic efforts related to all aspects of cyberspace," the Secretary added.
The Decision comes after Tillerson faced scrutiny from both Parties last year over his decision to fold the standalone Office of Cybersecurity Coordinator into an Economic-focused Bureau as part of his broad efforts to Reorganize the Agency. Royce first relayed the News during a Cyber Diplomacy Briefing on Tuesday that focused on the need to engage the International Community on Cybersecurity-related issues. "The proposal will elevate the stature of the department official leading cyberspace policy to one that is confirmed by the U.S. Senate — an assistant secretary — to lead high-level diplomatic engagements around the world," the Secretary argued.
Last year, Royce introduced a Bill, titled the Cyber Diplomacy Act, that seeks to Restore a State Department Office specifically focusing on Cyber Diplomacy efforts. The House passed the Bill last month, which also calls for the Official leading the Cyber Office to have the rank of Ambassador. Royce said Tillerson's proposal is a "welcomed" move, but continued to vouch for the Cyber Diplomacy Act to "help keep America safe and strong.”
“Cyberspace is vital to America’s national security, and to our economy. That’s why I have long called for the State Department to have a high-ranking diplomat who can confront the full range of challenges we face online," Royce said in a Statement in response to Tillerson's Letter. "The Foreign Affairs Committee will continue to work with the department and our colleagues in the Senate to ensure this assistant secretary and bureau is empowered to engage on the full range of cyber issues, dealing with security, human rights, and the economy,” he continued.
A State Department Spokesperson said the proposal is part of an effort to spearhead Cyber Policy and address Cybersecurity on a Global Scale. "The State Department recognizes its leadership role of diplomatic efforts related to all aspects of cyberspace and the need to have an effective platform from which to engage relevant global stakeholders and exercise that leadership role," the Spokesperson said.
Under Tillerson's proposal, the Cyber Bureau would seek to establish a “global deterrence framework” in an effort to outline how Countries can respond when other nations “engage in malicious cyber activities.” It would also seek to develop Strategies against Adversaries, Promote Programs that help with Cyber Threat Prevention and Responses, establish Partnerships to keep the nature of the Internet Open with a Cross-Border flow of Data, and Open Lines of Dialogue for Diplomatic Officials to further engage on such issues.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker