R. David Edelman

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R. David Edelman
R. David Edelman.jpg
Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Technology Policy, National Economic Council
In office
October 1, 2013 – January 19, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Personal details
BornMinneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationThe Branson School
Alma materYale University
Oxford University
OccupationDirector, Project on Technology, the Economy, & National Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Edelman speaking at a cybersecurity conference in 2016

R. David Edelman is an American policymaker and academic who currently directs the Project on Technology, the Economy, and National Security (TENS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1] Previously, he served as Special Assistant to President Barack Obama on issues of the digital economy and national security.[2] In that role, he led policy development around technology and related issues for the National Economic Council. He also served in the Office of Science & Technology Policy, and as the first Director for International Cyber Policy on the National Security Council.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

R. David Edelman was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, later moving with his family to California, where he attended the Branson School.[5] His parents, Steve and Sharon Edelman, are television hosts and producers.[6]

Edelman received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University.[3] While there, he served on the Yale College Council[7] and founded its Yale-in-Washington program.[8] He went on to earn his M.Phil and D.Phil in International Relations from Oxford University as a Clarendon Scholar.[4] His dissertation, entitled “Cyberattacks in International Relations,” examined which forces might restrain state use of computer network attacks.[9]


State Department[edit]

After leaving Oxford, Edelman returned to the U.S. to accept a role in the State Department as a Foreign Affairs Analyst for Northeast Asia. He later moved to the State Department’s Office of Cyber Affairs,[10] where his focus shifted to American diplomacy around internet issues, and the international legal aspects of cyberspace. In that role, he became the United States’ primary negotiator at the United Nations for internet matters.[10]

Edelman speaks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

White House[edit]

In December, 2010 Edelman joined President Obama’s National Security Council staff as the first Director for International Cyber Policy, where he was called “chief cyber diplomat” for his work in the space.[11] At that time, he was the youngest-ever Director appointed to the NSC.[3][12]

On the NSC, Edelman was the primary author of the United States International Strategy for Cyberspace,[4] and oversaw the 2013 addition of cybersecurity issues to the topics discussed on the Moscow-Washington hotline – colloquially, the “red phone”.[13][14] He also coordinated the addition of cyber issues to the US-India dialogue in 2011, following nearly a decade of silence on the subject between those nations.[14][15]

In 2012 Edelman became Senior Advisor for Internet, Innovation, and Privacy at the White House’s Office of Science & Technology Policy. There, he pursued several initiatives, including the creation of President Obama’s ConnectED program to provide K-12 classrooms with $10 billion in technology upgrades through public-private partnership.[16][17] He also led the White House task force on High-Tech Patent Issues;[18] the Administration’s effort to lift restrictions on cellphone unlocking;[19][20] and the 2013 White House report, “Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values”.[21]

In 2014 he was promoted to Special Assistant to the President for Economic & Technology Policy.[2] In that role he managed the United States National Economic Council team responsible for a range of issues including innovation and technology trade, competition and antitrust, broadband/telecom, consumer cybersecurity, data privacy, and intellectual property.[2] He was most recently involved in the Administration’s policies on autonomous/connected vehicles;[22] the EU-US Privacy Shield trade agreement;[23] and 5G spectrum policy.[24]

Post-Obama administration[edit]

In February 2017, Edelman was appointed to the Board of Trustees of both the Newseum and the Newseum Institute.[25] In March 2017, he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Internet Policy Research Initiative to direct its Project on Technology, the Economy, and National Security (TENS).[1][26]


  1. ^ a b Fung, Brian (2017-03-08). "'This is an all hands on deck thing': A former Obama technology adviser on robots, jobs and cyberwarfare". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  2. ^ a b c Whitehouse.gov Archive. "R. David Edelman"
  3. ^ a b c Fisher, Daniel; Canal, Emily & Roy, Avik (2015-01-05). "White House Officials, Legal Entrepreneurs Dominate 30 Under 30 Law And Policy List". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  4. ^ a b c Techonomy. "R. David Edelman"
  5. ^ Staats, Jim (2007-07-25). "Corte Madera executive produces shows for HGTV, History Channel, Food Network". Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  6. ^ C.J. (2014-01-05). "Steve and Sharon, former KSTP pair, still going strong". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  7. ^ Carmody, Brenna (2006-12-08). "Yale housing cleans up its act". Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  8. ^ Mishkin, Sarah (2005-04-11). "Edelman fuses vision and action". Yale Daily News. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  9. ^ Edelman, R. David (2013). "Cyberattacks in international relations". Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  10. ^ a b Techonomy. Case, Cerf & Edelman: Keeping America Innovative. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  11. ^ White House YouTube Channel. Launching the U.S. International Strategy for Cyberspace. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  12. ^ Allen, Mike (2011-02-04). "To keep Obama from getting upper hand on jobs, House GOP plans hearings on regs – Channeling POTUS on CHANGE in Egypt – New NYT White House trio – Win lunch with Ben Smith and JMart". Politico. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  13. ^ Nakashima, Ellen (2013-06-17). "U.S. and Russia sign pact to create communication link on cyber security". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  14. ^ a b Aspen Institute. "R. David Edelman" Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  15. ^ Ranganathan, Nayantara (2015-09-30). Cybersecurity and bilateral ties of India and the United States: A very brief history Internet Democracy Project. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  16. ^ Edelman, R. David. (2015-06-29) Delivering on a Dream: The ConnectED Story. White House Blog. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  17. ^ Rodriguez, Roberto and Edelman, R. David. (2013-06-14) Growing Bipartisan Support for ConnectED. White House Blog. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  18. ^ Pappas, Peter C. (2013-12-30) Reflections on 2013 and Some Thoughts on the Year Ahead. IP Watchdog. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  19. ^ Scola, Nancy. (2013-03-05) More Than Gimmicks: How Obama's Tech Tools Are Shifting the Debate. The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  20. ^ Yu, Roger. (2013-03-04) White House sides with consumers on unlocked cellphones. USA Today. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  21. ^ Multiple authors. (2013-05-1) Big Data: Seizing Opportunities, Preserving Values. The White House Executive Office of the President. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  22. ^ Rosenbush, Steve. (2013-07-17) White House Weighs in on ‘Google’ Cars. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  23. ^ Carberry, Sean D. (2016-09-28) US and EU seek to bridge data privacy gaps. Federal Computer Week Magazine. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  24. ^ Furman, Jason and Edelman, R. David. (2016-07-15) Unlocking the Promise of Broadband for All Americans. White House Blog. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
  25. ^ Newseum and Newseum Institute Appoint New Trustees. Newseum News. Retrieved 2017-02-06.
  26. ^ R. David Edelman Joins MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative. MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative. Retrieved 2017-03-14.