Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Cyber Diplomacy Act (H.R. 3776), authored by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), which gives the U.S. the tools it needs to advance our vision for cyberspace – one that works internationally to keep the internet open, reliable and secure.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“The United States is increasingly under attack by foreign actors online.

Malicious cyber activities by state and non-state actors threaten U.S. foreign policy, security and economic interests around the globe.

Last year, the intelligence community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment stated, ‘Our adversaries are becoming more adept at using cyberspace to threaten our interests and advance their own, and despite improving our cyber defenses, nearly all information, communication networks, and systems will be at risk for years.’

But it’s not just the security of our networks that the United States needs to protect. It is the very fabric of the internet itself that is increasingly under assault by governments that want to erect digital borders and impose more control and censorship online.

The State Department has a critical role to play in promoting an open and secure cyberspace by developing international norms of responsible state behavior and deterring malicious actors from carrying out destructive cyber operations.

Last year, the President signed an Executive Order charging the Secretary of State with creating an interagency strategy to protect the American people from cyber threats, along with a plan to improve international cooperation in cybersecurity.

Despite the prominent role assigned to the Department by the President’s Executive Order, and support from this body for such work, the office tasked with leading this effort for the State Department was merged into the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. The concern is that this limits the Department’s ability to confront the full range of issues in cyberspace – such as security, internet access, online human rights, and cybercrime – beyond the clear economic challenges.

I believe this sends the wrong signal to Moscow, Beijing and other governments around the world. The United States should make it clear that we place a high priority on the whole range of cyber issues – including cybersecurity, internet access, online rights, deterrence and cybercrime.

In testimony before the Foreign Affairs Committee, I was relieved to hear Deputy Secretary Sullivan say that this was just an interim step, and that he expects cyber issues will ultimately be elevated to a Senate-confirmed role. That is exactly what this bill requires.

Now more than ever, we need a high-ranking cyber diplomat at the State Department to prioritize these efforts and ensure we keep the internet open, reliable and secure.

The bipartisan Cyber Diplomacy Act will help counter foreign threats on the internet while promoting human rights abroad and creating new jobs and economic growth here at home. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”