State Dept. Opens Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy to Address Digital Modernization

The State Department has opened the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy (CDP) to address national security challenges, economic opportunities and implications for the U.S. as tied to cyberspace, new and emerging digital technologies and digital policy.

State described the bureau as a “key piece” of Secretary Antony Blinken’s digital modernization agenda. Structurally, the CDP is segment by three policy units:

  • International Cyberspace Security.
  • International Information and Communications Policy.
  • Digital Freedom.

At as-yet undefined point, the bureau will be led by a Senate-confirmed Ambassador-at-Large. For now, Jennifer Bachus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is the bureau’s inaugural lead as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary. She will also serve as Senior Bureau Official until an Ambassador-at-Large meets with Senate approval.

The Bureau’s mission is to “encourage responsible state behavior in cyberspace and advance policies that protect the integrity and security of the infrastructure of the Internet, serve U.S. interests, promote competitiveness, and uphold democratic values,” Bachus said in a statement. “The Bureau addresses the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and values considerations presented by cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy and promotes standards and norms that are fair, transparent, and support our values.”

Additional bureau officials include: Michele Markoff, who is serving as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Cyberspace Security; Stephen Anderson, who is serving as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Information and Communications Policy: and, Blake Peterson, who is serving as Acting Digital Freedom Coordinator.

In remarks delivered at the Foreign Service Institute last October, Blinken said the Department has 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.”

At the time, Blinken said the agency has five modernization goals:

  1. Prevent cyber attacks that put our people, our networks, companies, and critical infrastructure at risk.
  2. Ensure that the internet remains a transformative force for learning, for connection, for economic growth, not a tool of repression.
  3. Shape the standards that govern new technology, so they ensure quality, protect consumer health and safety, facilitate trade and respect people’s rights.
  4. Make sure technology works for democracy, fighting back against disinformation, standing up for internet freedom reducing the misuse of surveillance technology.
  5. Promote cooperation, advancing this agenda tech by tech, issue by issue, with democratic partners by our side.
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