The Cyberlaw Podcast

It was a cyberlaw-packed week in Washington. Congress jammed the CLOUD Act into the omnibus appropriations bill, and boom, just like that, it’s law. Say goodbye to the Microsoft Ireland case just argued in the Supreme Court. Maury Shenk offers a view of the Act from the United Kingdom, the most likely and maybe the only beneficiary of the Act. Biggest losers? For sure, the ACLU and EFF and their ilk, who were more or less rendered irrelevant when they lost the funding and implicit backing of Silicon Valley business interests.

But wait, there’s more congressional action, and it is bad news for Silicon Valley business interests. For the first time, the immunity conferred on social media platforms by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has been breached. Jamil Jaffer and I discuss FOSTA/SESTA, adopted this week. In theory, the act only criminalizes media platforms that intentionally promote or facilitate prostitution, but any platforms that actually read their own content are likely at risk. Which is what Craigslist concluded, killing its personals section in response to the act. Worse for Silicon Valley, this may just be the beginning, as its unpopularity with left and right alike starts coming home to roost.

Not to be upstaged by Congress, President Trump announces a plan to impose $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and new investment limits on Chinese money. Sue Esserman explains the plan and just how serious an issue it’s addressing.

Jim Lewis tells us about the FCC’s rumored plan to pile on Chinese telecom manufacturers, adopting a rule to bar the use of Universal Service funds to purchase Chinese telecom infrastructure gear. If we want to keep China out of our telecom infrastructure, he says, we should be prepared to pay a hefty price.

In any other week, Jim and Jamil would get to spend quality time chewing over the indictment and sanctioning of Iranian hackers charged with massive thefts of intellectual property. Not this week. They give their bottom line up front: Indictments and sanctions are a good first step but can’t be our only response.

Speaking of hating Silicon Valley, there’s a wave of criticism—and a lawsuit—building against Uber in what may be a self-driving car accident that better tech could have prevented. Jamil urges caution in reaching conclusions.

We barely have time for the massive flap over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Still, I can’t help noting that in 2012, when the Obama campaign bragged about stripping the social graph of its Facebook followers, there was no privacy scandal. Today, after Cambridge Analytica made dubious claims to have done something similar, the EU’s Vera Jourova sees a “threat to democracy.” If you’re a conservative who supports new privacy attacks on Facebook, don’t blame me when it turns out that the new privacy law is weaponized against the right, just as the old one has been.

And, as a token bit of international news, China’s social credit system is being implemented in a totalitarian fashion that reminds me of Lyft’s embrace of the McCarthyite Southern Poverty Law Center, in that both systems deny transportation to those suffering from wrongthink. Maury Shenk says it also tells us something about the efficiency and clarity of authoritarian uses of new technology.

Speaking of wrongthink, Google’s YouTube is banning firearms demo videos. Some of the banned videos may soon be hosted on Pornhub, which at least allows all those guys who used to read Playboy “for the articles” to visit pornhub “for the gun instructional videos.”

Finally, for our interview, Cyberlaw Podcast joins forces with the hosts of National Security Law Today, a podcast of the ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security.

We interview Michael Page of OpenAI, a nonprofit devoted to a nonprofit devoted to developing safe and beneficial artificial intelligence. It’s a deep conversation, but lawyers will want to spend time with the latest study suggesting that AI reads contracts faster and better than most lawyers. Brrr!

As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is hiring a part-time intern for our Washington, DC offices. If you are interested, visit our website at Steptoe.com/careers.

Download the 209th Episode (mp3).

Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here.  We are also on iTunes, Pocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-209.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29am EST

All of Washington is mad at Silicon Valley these days, as our news roundup reveals. Democrats and the media have moved on from blaming Hillary Clinton’s loss on Vladimir Putin; now they’re blaming Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Gus Hurwitz and I have doubts about the claims of illegality, but I reprise my frequent critique of privacy laws: They are uniquely likely to be enforced against those who annoy governing elites (because they’re so vague and disconnected from objectionable conduct that they can be enforced against almost anyone).

Alan Cohn describes the many regulatory agencies now feeling emboldened to take a whack at cryptocurrencies. He’s hopeful that only bad actors will actually feel the blow.

I lay out the remarkably aggressive and novel enforcement philosophy behind CFIUS’s rejection of the Broadcom-Qualcomm deal—and the steadily advancing congressional effort to regulate Silicon Valley’s Chinese connections more closely. That effort has featured some remarkably harsh political attacks on tech giants like IBM and General Electric.

Is all this hate for techies good or bad for the effort to re-impose net neutrality through the courts? The states? Stephanie Roy maps the terrain, which turns out to be every bit as muddled as you thought the last time you read about it.

Need another reason to hate technology? How about this: It’s soon going to kill someone. I explain the latest scary reports from Saudi Arabia’s industrial control system—and America’s.

Pressed for time, we do quick hits on stories that deserved more but got crowded out:

  • Twitter suspends comedian Steven Crowder for a video in which an intern crashed an LGBTQ meeting in SXSW claiming to identify as a computer.
  • YouTube follows suit.
  • Yet somehow Louis Farrakhan keeps both his Twitter account and its coveted blue check while tweeting crap like this: “the FBI has been the worst enemy of Black advancement. The Jews have control over those agencies of government.”
  • At the same time that it’s broadcasting Farrakhan, Twitter seems to be blocking much of the Drudge Report.
  • And Western Journal (WJ) says Facebook’s new algorithm for “giving a boost to quality news” reduced lefty site traffic by 2 percent and righty site traffic by 14 percent. As an example, comparing two New York tabloids with very different politics, WJ says the change boosted Facebook’s traffic to the lefty New York Daily News by 24 percent and cut the righty New York Post’s traffic by 11 percent. (Similar claims were made by another conservative site using a different methodology.

Finally, our interview is with Pete Chronis, Turner’s Chief Information Security Officer and author of a new book, The Cyber Conundrum. Pete lays out his vision for a cybersecurity moonshot, and the two of us explore particular cybersecurity remedies that make up the effort. We take detours to explore the vulnerabilities equities process, bot in the U.S. and in China. We also touch on the unwise purist stand being taken by IETF on TLS 1.3, which seems determined to offer internet users what might be called “Privacy and Insecurity—By Design.” (And to bring this post full circle, if you were wondering why ordinary people are getting sick of dancing to the tune of Silicon Valley engineers, the IETF’s stiff-necked and counterproductive position on security for corporate network users would be a good place to start.)

As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback.  Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is hiring a part-time intern for our Washington, DC offices. If you are interested, visit our website at Steptoe.com/careers.

Download the 208th Episode (mp3).

Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also on iTunesPocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-208.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:43pm EST

Our interview this week is with Amb. Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator. We cover a Trump administration diplomatic achievement in the field of technology and terrorism that has been surprisingly under covered (or maybe it’s not surprising at all, depending on how cynical you are about press coverage of the Trump administration). We also explore new terrorism technology challenges and opportunities in social media, State’s role in designating terrorists, the difference a decade can make in tech and terror policy, and how the ambassador lost his cowboy boots.

In the news roundup, China seems to be hiding behind half our stories this week. Brian Egan and I sift through the entrails of CFIUS’s pronouncements on the Qualcomm-Broadcom takeover fight charts, where Chinese competition in 5G is an ever-present subtext.

More broadly, we point to a flood of stories suggesting that the U.S. government is just beginning to struggle with the challenge posed by an economically strong adversary nation. These include accusations of “weaponized capital,” naïve and compromised US academic institutions, and what amounts to a Chinese intelligence-industrial-unicorn complex.

The SEC says digital coin exchanges may be unlawful; bitcoin takes a market hit. But Matthew Heiman, in his first appearance on the podcast, expresses some doubt about the SEC’s authority over many of the businesses the agency called out.

The SEC wants something else to worry about, maybe it should be paying more attention to the Internet Engineering Task Force, where techno-privacy zealots are getting ready to cripple the ability of business enterprises to secure their networks and comply with employee monitoring requirements. Living down to my rock-bottom view of privacy campaigners, the IETF seems to be saying that in order to signal their virtue on privacy issues, they are happy to sacrifice our security – and compliance with law.

Part of the problem may be a lack of technically sophisticated staffers in government; Matthew and Jamil Jaffer chew over the cyber staffing crisis in government, and what can be done about it.

Finally, Jamil and Matthew comment on FBI director Wray’s statement that the FBI is not looking to blow a regulatory whistle on data-breached companies that ask for the Bureau’s help.

Our guest interview is with Nathan Sales, ambassador-at-large and coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department.

As always, the Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is hiring a part-time intern for our Washington, DC offices. If you are interested, visit our website at Steptoe.com/careers.

Download the 207th Episode (mp3).

Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also on iTunesPocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-207.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:14pm EST

Our interview features an excellent and mostly grounded exploration of how artificial intelligence could become a threat as a result of the cybersecurity arms race. Maury Shenk does much of the interviewing in London. He talks to Miles Brundage, AI Policy Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford and Shahar Avin of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and Research Associate at Cambridge. They are principal authors of a paper titled “The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention and Mitigation.” The discussion was mostly grounded, as I said, but I did manage to work in a reference to the all-too-plausible threat of a hacking, bargaining AI sent by aliens from other star systems.

In the news roundup, semi-regular contributor Gus Hurwitz does a post-mortem on the oral argument in the Microsoft-Ireland case. Maury notes that Google has issued its most detailed report yet on how it’s implementing the right to be forgotten. My takeaway: Apart from censoring media in their own countries, everyone’s favorite censorship targets seem to be U.S. sites. I am not comforted that 90 percent of the censorship stays home, since the rest of it seems aimed at keeping true facts from, well, me.

Gus evaluates the latest Securities and Exchange Commission cybersecurity guidance. Bottom line: no surprises, but a good thing nonetheless. I do a quick recap of the CFIUS butcher’s bill for Chinese deals. It’s every bit as ugly as you’d expect. The Xcerra and Cogint deals have collapsed over chip and personal data worries. The Genworth deal is on the bubble. And CFIUS is taking unprecedented action to intervene in the Qualcomm-Broadcom proxy fight.

A new contributor, Megan Reiss of the R Street Institute, unpacks a couple of new security industry reports covering the emergence of false flags at the Olympics and the increasingly blurred line between criminal and state cyberespionage.

Maury covers the latest EU effort to wrongfoot Big Tech over scrubbing terrorist content. And I try to broaden the point, noting that the idea of a tech “platform” immunity has begun to fray even in the US, the land of its birth.

For those listeners afraid to traverse the feverswamps of conservative media, I bring back a story that shows why the loss of Big Tech platform immunity is shaping up as a bipartisan issue. Would you believe that CNN has bought an industrial washing machine so that it can spin stories more efficiently before airing them?  Do you need Snopes.com to tell you that’s satire? Does anyone need an anonymous Big Tech finger-wagger to tell you it’s fake news and threaten the site with penalties for repeat offenses? If not, you can see the right is uncomfortable with Big Tech as media gatekeeper.

Finally, as a bit of comic relief, last week Edward Snowden took to Twitter to criticize Apple for posing as a protector of privacy while actually cozying up to a dictatorship. Really. You can’t make this stuff up.

As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback.  Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is thinking of hiring a part-time intern for our Washington, DC offices. If you are interested, visit our website in the next week or so at Steptoe.com/careers.

Download the 206th Episode (mp3).

Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here.  We are also on iTunesPocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-206.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16pm EST

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