Defense Would Keep State in the Loop Under New “Notifications” Agreement


Agencies within the Biden administration have reportedly reached an agreement that would give the State Department more input into “third-party notifications”: when—and if—the U.S. government alerts countries that it plans to enter their cyberspace to interrupt adversaries’ cyber operations. Reports indicated that President Biden had not yet signed off on the arrangement.

The conflict between departments stems in part from authorities given to Defense by the Trump administration through National Security Presidential Memorandum-13. This authorized DoD to engage adversaries in cyberspace in time-sensitive situations without first getting White House approval. This new arrangement is intended to address some of the criticisms of NSPM-13 from State and others, who have argued that it allows the military to take action without considering issues of diplomacy, norm-setting, and other “big picture” concerns.