President Donald Trump reversed an Obama-issued memorandum restricting federal cyber warfare operations, The Wall Street Journal Reports, citing sources close to the White House. Originally signed in 2012, the classified Presidential Policy Directive 20 was canceled on Wednesday, providing government agencies with more leeway in regards to how they can greenlight and conduct cyber attacks against foreign entities. The order itself only became public knowledge in 2013 after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden opted to become a whistleblower, publicly leaking a wide variety of documentation detailing Washington's surveillance efforts in the country and abroad.
People with knowledge of the development claim the directive wasn't just repealed but was also replaced, though the contents of the new policy remain unclear, save for the implication that President Trump's rules are laxer and would allow government agencies to move forward with cyber warfare in a swifter manner, with fewer checks being part of the process. The President's national security adviser John Bolton is understood to have pushed for a reversal of the 2012 rules since joining the administration in April, as per the same report. The sensitive nature of the new ruleset indicates it enjoys a high level of classification, much like the previous framework, making any official publication of the thereof a highly unlikely scenario.
The Trump administration has recently been under pressure to do more in regards to ensuring the U.S. is prepared to tackle cybersecurity threats, especially in lights of revelations about Russian foreign agents interfering with the 2016 presidential election. The White House made its first such move in mid-2017 with the establishment of the American Technology Council but the body delivered little initiative proposals to date. Separately, Washington is presently also said to be working on a new framework for data privacy laws that it hopes to see codified by Congress in the near future. The Pentagon recently confirmed it's building a list of software vendors that have potentially been compromised by foreign powers and will be sharing it with federal agencies in the form of a directive banning any purchases of such technologies.