Provisions to establish a national cyber security director in the White House were included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2021, which sets the budget for national defense spending. In 2018, President Donald Trump’s administration abolished a similar position.
Congressman Jim Langevin, a senior member of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, introduced a separate bill in June to create this office. The provision contained in NDAA 2021 is based on this law, known as the National Cyber Director Act.
” I have been working on strengthening our nation’s cyber security for more than a decade, and it is absolutely clear that the country needs someone responsible for cyber security at the highest levels of government,” Langevin said in a statement issued in Washington Newsday on Thursday.
“The inclusion of the National Cyber Director Act in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act brings us closer to establishing an overarching and more effective cyber strategy to protect the nation,” Langevin continued. “With the increasing reliance on information technology infrastructure for communications, commerce, personal use and national security purposes, it is more important than ever that there is one expert who can bring all elements of government together and ensure that we pull the rudder in the same direction to protect Americans.
According to the declaration, the National Cyber Director would exercise both budgetary and political authority to “oversee the development and implementation of the national cyber strategy and coordinate national efforts to respond to cyber incidents.
Once the House of Representatives adopts the NDAA in December, it will be forwarded to the Senate. When it passes the Senate, it will be up to President Donald Trump to turn the NDAA into a law. Trump has threatened to veto the NDAA if Section 230, a law that protects social media platforms from litigation over the publication of some illegal content by third parties, is not repealed.
If the NDAA is approved, the choice of who will be the U.S. Cyber Director could possibly be left to President-Elect Joe Biden. Whoever is nominated for this office will face a confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate.
In 2009 the administration of former President Barack Obama created the office of Cyber Security Coordinator in the White House. Obama elected Howard Schmidt as his first cyber tsar. Schmidt was responsible for integrating the government’s cyber policies and ensuring that government agencies have the appropriate funding to address cyber security issues and coordinate responses to computer attacks.
During Trump’s tenure, the position was left vacant in 2018 by the then White House Cyber Security Coordinator, Rob Joyce, who assumed a position within the National Security Agency. In May of the same year, the White House completely vacated the position.
The Democrats criticized the removal of the role. In a statement, California Democratic representative Ted Lieu described the White House decision at the time as “outrageous, especially in light of the fact that we face more hostile threats from foreign adversaries than ever before.
In a 2019 executive order, Trump called for the creation of programs to highlight the importance of cyber security within the government, including a “rotation program under which federal employees can expand their expertise in cyber security through temporary transfers to other agencies.
“America built the Internet and shared it with the world,” Trump wrote. “Now we will do our part to help secure and preserve cyberspace for future generations,” Trump said.