The State Department announced today that it has officially launched its long-awaited Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy (CDP), which will “address the national security challenges, economic opportunities, and implications for U.S. values associated with cyberspace, digital technologies, and digital policy.”

The bureau will be led by a Senate-confirmed ambassador, who will oversee the CDP’s three policy units: International Cyberspace Security, International Information and Communications Policy, and Digital Freedom.

Starting today, Jennifer Bachus, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is serving as principal deputy assistant secretary for the CDP bureau, according to the State Department. Bachus will serve as the senior bureau official until an ambassador-at-large is confirmed.

The department also announced that Michele Markoff is serving as acting deputy assistant secretary for International Cyberspace Security, Stephen Anderson is serving as acting deputy assistant secretary for International Information and Communications Policy, and Blake Peterson is serving as acting coordinator for Digital Freedom.

The creation of a cyber bureau at the State Department has been a work in progress for years.

In January 2019, House members introduced a bill to create an Office on International Cyberspace Policy in the State Department, led by an ambassador for cyberspace. Then in June 2019, the department notified Congress of its intent to create a Bureau of Cyberspace Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET).

However, CSET faced criticism after then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved the establishment of the cyber bureau in the final days of the Trump administration. Lawmakers urged President Biden to hit pause on CSET once he took office, claiming CSET was “a misguided cyberspace reorganization,” and that it lacked emphasis on international cyber policy.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.