Recognizing the persistent and increasingly sophisticated nature of cyber incidents threatening the safety and security of the U.S., the Biden administration is launching a new bureau focused on cybersecurity and digital policy. On October 27, 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally announced a plan to establish a Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, which includes appointing a special envoy to address critical and emerging technologies. The new bureau and special envoy will address issues such as cyber threats, digital freedom, and surveillance risks, and will coordinate with the U.S.’s allies to establish international standards on emerging technologies.
The new bureau will be run by a Senate-confirmed ambassador-at-large and will focus on international cyberspace security, international digital policy, and digital freedom. The yet-to-be appointed special envoy will facilitate international policy discussions on artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and other technologies.
As part of this proposal, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is requesting that Congress grant a 50% increase in the State Department’s IT budget to modernize the agency’s technology, communication, and analytical capabilities, and is also prioritizing workforce diversity by focusing on the hiring and development of STEM expertise across the Foreign and Civil Service and strengthening multilateral diplomacy efforts.
This announcement follows other recent cybersecurity announcements reflecting the efforts the Biden administration has taken to modernize U.S. cyber policy, including President Biden’s recent Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity and the Department of Justice’s new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, which enforces cybersecurity standards and reporting requirements. Together, these developments signal to allies and adversaries that the U.S. is prioritizing cyber threats as a critical matter of national security, consistent with the recommendations of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. These efforts will help facilitate multilateral offensive and defensive cyber operations as well as the tracking and seizure of ransomware payments and may lead to international accords that will shape the cybersecurity ecosystem.