The top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday reintroduced legislation to position the U.S. State Department as the lead federal agency in creating international cyber security policy.
"In the face of growing cyber threats from foreign adversaries, this legislation ensures that the State Department will lead global efforts to develop cyber security norms and reject authoritarian attempts to undermine Internet freedoms," Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the committee chairman, said in a statement.
The Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2019 (H.R. 739) creates an Cyberspace Ambassador within the State Department to lead its cyber diplomacy efforts and establishes a U.S. policy for international cyber efforts "that advances democratic principles and rejects attempts by Russia and China to extort more control and censorship over the Internet," Engel and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member on the committee, said in a joint release.
The bill says "It is the policy of the United States to work internationally to promote an open, interoperable, reliable, unfettered, and secure Internet government by the multi-stakeholder model."
The bill also establishes an Office of International Cyberspace Policy within the State Department to be led by the new presidentially-appointed ambassador.
Before leaving his post, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proposed a reorganization plan that sought to eliminate the department's cyber diplomacy office and merge a cyber and economic affairs office into a new Bureau for Cyberspace and the Digital Economy.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers pressed back against the move at the time, citing concern over the reorganization's potential to downgrade the department's role in promoting cyber diplomacy efforts.