President Donald Trump has reversed an Obama-era memorandum governing how and when the U.S. government can deploy cyberweapons against its adversaries, in an effort to loosen restrictions on such operations, according to people familiar with the action.
Trump signed an order Wednesday reversing the classified rules, known as Presidential Policy Directive 20, that had mapped out an elaborate interagency process that must be followed before U.S. use of cyberattacks, particularly those geared at foreign adversaries.
Although the policy was classified, its contents were made public when it was leaked in 2013 by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. It was signed by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, in 2012.
It wasn’t clear what rules Trump is adopting to replace the Obama directive. A number of current U.S. officials confirmed the directive had been replaced but declined to comment further, citing the classified nature of the process. The move was described as an “offensive step forward” by an administration official briefed on the decision, one intended to help support military operations, deter foreign election influence and thwart intellectual property theft by meeting such threats with more forceful responses.
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