The Biden administration’s pick to be the nation’s first ambassador for cyberspace on Wednesday said his initial priorities are to create a culture of cyber and digital expertise within the State Department, to ensure the department is an equal participant within the government on cyber and digital policy matters and finally to deal with pressing cybersecurity challenges globally.

U.S. leadership in technology is “critical” to promoting “our values, to sustaining our economic strength and to our national security,” Nathaniel Fick, the nominee to be Ambassador-at-Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy, told a Senate panel during his confirmation hearing.

“Countries such as the People’s Republic of China and Russia have a very different vision for cyberspace and the use of digital technologies, which is why American leadership matters in this arena, alongside like-minded allies and partners,” he said. Fick added that “Our future will be shaped by the infrastructure standards, norms and policies that determine how digital technologies are developed, deployed and used.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April stood up the new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, which is based on a recommendation of Cyberspace Solarium Commission to promote international norms of behavior in cyberspace, international enforcement of these norms, and to ensure the U.S. is active in international bodies that are setting standards for the internet.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who introduced Fick to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters on Tuesday evening that the new ambassador position is one of the two or three most important recommendations of the cyberspace commission, which he co-chaired.

International norms would be like the Geneva Convention in terms of having laws for war, he said, adding that if these norms are violated “multi-lateral” international sanctions and other response activities would ensue.

King warned that China has been “active” in the international standards bodies for the internet while the U.S. has “not been very good at leading those efforts.”

Fick, a retired Marine Corps officer who also led the cybersecurity company Endgame, Inc. and the public policy think tank the Center for New American Security, told the committee that the culture he envisions for the State Department is one “where fluency and expertise in digital technologies is seen as important to the careers and futures of career Foreign Service Officers and members of the civil service.”

Fick will also “assert the State Department’s rightful place in the interagency process on topics of cybersecurity and digital policy,” he said.

His third “immediate top priority” is to address the global policy challenges, which include, “The wolf closest to the door…in my view, is the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the threats and opportunities it provides in the digital space for us. And then, I believe, our strategic competition with China along digital lines is probably the defining strategic question of my generation.”

Fick is currently the general manager for security at Elastic, a search platform company.

The House has passed legislation that would codify the new State Department bureau. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had planned to consider the Cyber Diplomacy Act on Wednesday but that markup has been delayed due to the Senate’s planned vote on admitting Finland and Sweden into NATO.