U.S. Cyber Diplomacy Bill


The U.S. Senate is considering a bill referred to as the Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2021. This bill consists of a set of measures for diplomacy in the cyberspace.

The bill is part of the United States’ international strategy to promote open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet infrastructure.  It is also intended to guarantee cyber policy to promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, including freedom of expression, innovation, and a multilateral Internet governance model.

As for cyber policy, measures must be adopted for deterrence of cyber threats, fostering incentives for open, interoperable, reliable and secure information and communications technology infrastructure, engaging the private sector, academia and other internationally relevant public and private entities in cyber-related issues. Other objectives are: to adopt national measures and programs that enable cyber threat detection, prevention, and response to malicious activity; to promote capacity building by other countries on cyber policy priorities; to promote an international regulatory environment for technology and internet investments that benefit U.S. economic interests and national security; to promote cross-border data flow and fight international initiatives that impose unreasonable requirements on U.S. business; to promote international policies that protect the integrity of the United States and international telecommunications infrastructure before others based abroad; to lead executive agency engagement with foreign governments on economic issues relevant to cyberspace and the digital economy; to promote international policies to secure radio frequency bands for U.S. business and national security needs; to promote initiatives to strengthen civil and private sector resilience to face threats in cyberspace; to build capacity among U.S. diplomats to engage on cyber issues; to encourage the development and adoption by other countries of recognized international standards, policies, and best practices, among others.

Within one hundred and eighty (180) days after the passage of this bill, the Secretary of State must report on the international agreement between the United States and Brazil announced in May 2018. The State Department must present an action plan to guide the diplomatic service to act in the bilateral and multilateral arena with the purpose of developing standards addressing responsible conduct by countries in cyberspace, as well as to share best practices and proposals to strengthen civil and private sector resilience to threats and access to opportunities in cyberspace, review the status of existing efforts in multilateral forums to obtain commitments to the system of  international standards in cyberspace.  The State Department will review the policy related to instruments available to the President to deter and de-escalate tensions with foreign countries, state-funded agents, private agents, related to threats in cyberspace, assessing the tools used, and whether such tools have been effective deterrents. 

The human rights report must also be issued, as per the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.   The Comptroller General of the United States must, no later than one year from the publication of this Act, report on the extent of United States diplomatic efforts and procedures with other countries, including multilateral forums, bilateral engagements, negotiated agreements on cyberspace-related issues, advice to the Department of State on its organizational structure, and approach to diplomatic efforts to advance the full scope of United States interests in cyberspace, including an analysis of current diplomatic missions, structures, funding, activities, and more. This U.S. cyber diplomacy bill is set in the context of the geopolitical dispute with China for global leadership. The act is clearly intended to promote the interests of the United States beyond its borders. Therefore, the Cyber Diplomacy Act of 2021 implies challenges, risks and opportunities to Brazil, including designing its domestic and foreign policy considering exponential demands for cyber diplomacy. In fact, Itamaraty – the Brazilian Foreign Ministry – and, respectively, Brazilian diplomats will need to be trained to face these new challenges related to cyberspace, which include economic, commercial, cultural, and cyber defense challenges.

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Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Consultant in Communications Regulatory Law. PhD in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book The Geopolitical Game between the United States and China and the Impact on Brazil, 2021.

Ericson M. Scorsim

Lawyer and Consultant in Communication Law. PhD in Law from USP. Author of the Ebooks Collection on Communication Law with a focus on topics on technologies, internet, telecommunications and media.