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Secretary of State Tony Blinken speaks on the challenges during an October conference in Quito, Ecuador. Photo: Felipe Stanley/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced Monday plans for the State Department to create a new bureau of cyberspace and digital policy.

Why it matters: The establishment of the bureau and plans for a new envoy to oversee critical and emerging technology come after a series significant hack attacks and other online crimes, notably ransomware assaults on U.S. infrastructure.

Details: Blinken said in a memo to staff that following congressional approval the new envoy and the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy "provide us with greater leadership and accountability to drive the diplomatic agenda within the interagency and abroad," per AFP.

  • State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a briefing later Monday that the new Senate-confirmed ambassador-at-large would "lead the immediate technology diplomacy agenda with our allies, partners, and across the range of multilateral fora."
  • The bureau would focus on "three key areas: international cyberspace security, international digital policy and digital freedom."

The big picture: President Biden signed an executive order in May in response to the cyberattacks in the public and private sectors — from the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline to the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange attack.

  • Some $590 million had been paid by victims of ransomware attacks in the first six months of this year amid a surge in cybercrime, according to a Treasury Department report released earlier this month.

Go deeper: A conversation on cybersecurity

Go deeper

Regulators investigating Trump SPAC deal

Former President Donald Trump speaking during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, in October. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Regulators are investigating the planned merger between Digital World Acquisition Corporation and former President Trump's social media business, according to a recent filing by the SPAC.

Driving the news: The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority are looking into the trading of Digital World's shares, while the SEC is investigating communications and documents between Digital World and Trump Media Technology Group.

60 mins ago - World

Australia joins U.S. in diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Australia is joining the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in protest of human rights abuses committed by China's government, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday.

Driving the news: After the Biden administration's announcement that U.S. officials won't attend the Games due to the ongoing genocide of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region of China, Morrison said at a Sydney briefing that Australia would follow suit as "it's the right thing to do."

Progressives to file resolution to strip Boebert's committee seats

Rep. Lauren Boebert walking through the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House progressives are planning to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The move, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as progressives — anxious to see the right-wing firebrand face retribution for her recent comments — have grown frustrated by Democratic leadership's inaction on the issue.

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