US State Department official who lobbied against Huawei to resign

Rob Strayer is the latest in a series of cybersecurity officials to leave the Trump administration.
Rob Strayer is the latest in a series of cybersecurity officials to leave the Trump administration.PHOTO: ROB STRAYER/TWITTER

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - The US State Department's top cyber policy official, who spent the last few years warning US allies about the dangers of relying on companies like China's Huawei to build 5G networks, is resigning to work on policy issues on behalf of technology companies.

Mr Rob Strayer served as the deputy assistant secretary for cyber and international communications and information policy since he was appointed in September 2017. In that post, he had been the US diplomatic lead on issues ranging from cyber attacks and 5G security to emerging technologies and privacy policy. His resignation will take effect later this month.

Mr Strayer is the latest in a series of cyber-security officials to leave the Trump administration.

He will move to the Information Technology Industry Council, a technology trade association - whose members include Facebook, Twitter, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft - where he will serve as executive vice-president of policy.

At the State Department, Mr Strayer led a high-profile diplomatic campaign that sought to convince allies to adopt security standards for their 5G networks that excluded Huawei and another Chinese company, ZTE.

US officials have claimed both companies pose a national security risk. He also led diplomacy surrounding a US initiative to call out China's cyber-enabled intellectual property theft that has included publicly blaming the Chinese and indicting the hackers.

His departure comes amid rising tension with China and a push by the US to ban Chinese apps including TikTok from American computers and phones. He also leaves three months before the US election - the first presidential contest since Russia waged a hacking and disinformation campaign to influence the 2016 contest.

"We have been clear with countries that might seek to interfere in the 2020 elections that any attempts to do so would be unacceptable and met with consequences," Mr Strayer said in an interview.

Other cyber-security officials who were key to the US effort to defend against foreign influence in elections have also announced they are leaving their posts in December.

Ms Jeanette Manfra, who served as the assistant director for the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, stepped down, as did Ms Amy Hess, who served as the executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.