The Cyberlaw Podcast (general)

In our 326th episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast, Stewart Baker interviews Lauren Willard, who serves as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General. Stewart is also joined Nick Weaver (@ncweaver), David Kris (@DavidKris), and Paul Rosenzweig (@RosenzweigP).

Our interview this week focuses on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and features Lauren Willard, counsel to the Attorney General and a moving force behind the well-received Justice Department report on section 230 reform. Among the surprises: Just how strong the case is for FCC rule-making jurisdiction over section 230.

In the news, David Kris and Paul Rosenzweig talk through the fallout from Schrems II, the Court of Justice decision that may yet cut off all data flows across the Atlantic.

Paul and I speculate on the new election interference threat being raised by House Democrats. We also pause to praise the Masterpiece Theatre of intelligence reports on Russian cyber-attacks.

Nick Weaver draws our attention to a remarkable lawsuit against Apple. Actually, it’s not the lawsuit, it’s the conduct by Apple that is remarkable, and not in a good way. Apple gift cards are being used to cash out scams that defraud consumers in the US, and Apple’s position is that, gee, it sucks to be a scam victim but that’s not Apple’s problem, even though Apple is in the position to stop these scams and actually keeps 30% of the proceeds. I point out the Western Union–on better facts than that–ended up paying hundreds of millions of dollars in an FTC enforcement action–and still facing harsh criminal sanctions.

Paul and David talk us through the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which is shaping up to make a lot of cyber-security law, particularly law recommended by the Cyber Solarium Commission. On one of its recommendations – legislatively creating a White House cyber coordinator – we all end up lukewarm at best.

David analyzes the latest criminal indictment of Chinese hackers, and I try to popularize the concept of crony cyberespionage.

Paul does a post-mortem on the Twitter hack. And speaking only for myself, I can’t wait for Twitter to start charging for subscriptions to the service, for reasons you can probably guess.

David digs into the story that gives this episode its title – an academic study claiming that face recognition systems can be subverted by poisoning the training data with undetectable bits of cloaking data that wreck the AI model behind the system. How long, I wonder, before Facebook and Instagram start a “poisoned for your protection” service on their platforms?

In quick takes, I ask Nick to comment on the claim that US researchers will soon be building an “unhackable” quantum Internet. Remarkably his response is both pithy and printable.

And more!

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-326.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01pm EDT

The big news of the week was the breathtakingly arrogant decision of the European Court of Justice, announcing that it would set the rules for how governments could use personal data in fighting crime and terrorism.

Even more gobsmacking, the court decided to impose those rules on every government on the planet – except the members of the European Union, which are beyond its reach. Oh, and along the way the court blew up the Privacy Shield, exposing every transatlantic business to massive liability, and put the EU on a collision course with China over China’s most sensitive domestic security operations. This won’t end well. Paul Hughes helps me make sense of the decision.

In the interview, I talk to Darrell West, co-author of Turning Point—Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence. We mostly agree on where AI is already making a difference, where it’s still hype, and how it will transform war. Where we disagree is over the policy prescriptions for avoiding the worst outcomes. I disagree with the relentless focus of the book (and every other book in recent years) on the questionable claim of AI bias, and Darrell and I have a spirited disagreement over my claim that his prescription will hide numerical racial and gender quotas in every aspect of life that AI touches.

Iranian cyberspies make pretty good training videos, Sultan Meghji tells us, but they’re not taking any bows after leaving the videos exposed online.

If you thought Twitter’s content resembled middle school, wait until you see their security measures in action. Nate Jones has the details, but my takeaway is that middle school science projects are usually handled a lot more responsibly than Twitter’s “god mode” dashboard.

BIPA, the Illinois biometric privacy act, has inspired lawsuits against users of a database assembled to reduce AI bias. Mark MacCarthy explains that the law prohibits the use of biometrics (like pictures of your face) without consent. I observe that this makes BIPA the COVID-19 of privacy law.  Anyone who touches this database will be infected with liability, at least if the plaintiff’s surprisingly plausible theory holds up.

Sultan reminds us that the PRC has now been caught twice requiring companies in China to use tax software with built-in malware. You know what they say: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”  I don’t think we’ll need to wait long to see number three.

Nate gives us a former government lawyer’s take on the CIA’s new authority to conduct cyber covert action. (YahooLawfare) Ordinarily he’d be skeptical of keeping those decisions away from the White House, but in this case, he’ll make an exception. My take: If unshackling the CIA has produced the APT34 and FSB hacks and data dumps, what’s not to like?

In short hits, I mock the Justice Department spokesperson who claimed that Ghislaine Maxwell was engaged in “a misguided effort to evade detection” when she wrapped her cellphone in tin foil. And Mark and I cross swords over Reddit’s capture by the Intolerant Left. You make the call: When Reddit declares that exposing fake hate crimes as hoaxes is a form of hate speech, is that anecdotal evidence of left-wing bias or stone-cold proof of epistemic closure?

Download the 325th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunesGoogle PlaySpotifyPocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-325.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:06pm EDT

Our interview is with Bruce Schneier, who has co-authored a paper about how to push security back up the Internet-of-things supply chain: The reverse cascade: Enforcing security on the global IoT supply chain.  His solution is hard on IOT affordability and hard on big retailers and other middlemen, who will face new liabilities, but we conclude that it’s doable. In fact, the real question is who’ll get there first, a combination of DHS’s CISA and the FTC or the California Secretary of State.

In the News Roundup Megan Stifel (@MeganStifel), Nate Jones (@n8jones81), and David Kris (@DavidKris) and I discuss how it must feel to TikTok as though the shot clock is winding down.  Administration initiatives that could hurt or kill its US business are proliferating.  Nate Jones, Megan Stifel, and I explore the government’s options. The most surprising, and devastating, of them is a simple ban on TikTok as a threat to national security or the security of Americans. That’s the standard under Executive Order 13873, a brand-new (the regs aren’t yet final) implementation of the well-tested tools under IEEPA. A straightforward application of IEEPA remedies would cut TikTok off from the US market, I argue.

Meanwhile, another little-advertised but equally sweeping rule for government contractors is on its way to implementation. It will deny federal contracts, not just to certain Chinese products but to contractors who themselves use those products.

Not to be outdone by the contracting officers, the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department are attacking TikTok from a different direction — investigating claims that the company failed to live up to last year’s consent decree on the privacy of children using the app. 

And, on top of everything, private sector CISOs are drawing a bead on the app, as Wells Fargo and (briefly) Amazon tell their employees to take the app off their work phones

It’s no surprise in the face of these developments that TikTok is working overtime to decouple itself in the public’s mind from China, including going so far as to join the rest of Silicon Valley in signaling discomfort with Hong Kong’s new security rules (and ruler). Megan and I question whether this strategy will succeed.

If Chief Justice Roberts were running for office, he couldn’t have produced a better result than the Court’s latest tech decision – upholding most of a law that makes robocalls illegal while striking down the one part of the law that authorizes robocalls.  David Kris explains.

Nate unpacks a new Florida DBA privacy law prohibiting life, disability and long-term care insurance companies from using genetic tests for coverage purposes. I express skepticism.

Nate also explains the mysteriously quiet launch of the UK-US Bilateral Data Access Agreement. Four years in the making, and neither side wanted to announce that it was in effect – what’s with that, I wonder? 

FBI Director Wray gives a compelling speech on the counterintelligence and economic espionage threat from China. 

He says the bureau opens a new such case every ten hours.  And right on schedule come charges against a professor charged with taking $4M in US grant money to conduct research — for China.

David and I puzzle over the surprisingly lenient sentence handed to a former Yahoo engineer for hacking the personal accounts of more than 6,000 Yahoo Mail users to search and collect sexually explicit images and videos. 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-324.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:24pm EDT

In the News Roundup, Dave Aitel (@daveaitel), Mark MacCarthy (@Mark_MacCarthy), and Nick Weaver (@ncweaver) and I discuss how French and Dutch investigators pulled off the coup of the year this April, when they totally pwned a shady “secure phone” system used by massive numbers of European criminals. Nick Weaver explains that hacking the phones of Entrochat users gave them access to large troves of remarkably candid criminal text conversations. And, I argue, it shows the flaw in the argument of encryption defenders. They are right that restricting Silicon Valley encryption will send criminals to less savory companies, but those companies are inherently more prone to compromise, as happened here.

The EARN IT Act went from Washington-controversial to Washington consensus in the usual way.  It was amended into mush. Indeed, there’s an argument that, by guaranteeing nothing bad will happen to social platforms who adopt end-to-end encryption, the Leahy amendment has actually made e2e crypto more attractive than it is today. That’s my view, but Mark MacCarthy still thinks the twitching corpse of EARN IT might cause harm by allowing states to adopt stricter rules for liability in the context of child sex abuse material. He also thinks that it won’t pass.  I have ten bucks that says it will, and by the end of the year.    

Dave Aitel, new to the news roundup, discusses the bad week TikTok had in its second biggest market.  India has banned the app. And judging from some of the teardowns of the code, its days may be numbered elsewhere as well.   Dave points to reports that Angry Birds was used to collect user information as well when it was at the height of its popularity. We wax philosophic about why advertising and not national security agencies are breaking new ground in building our Brave New World.

Mark once worked for a credit card association, so he’s the perfect person to comment on claims that being labeled a “hate speech” platform won’t just get you boycotted in Silicon Valley but by the credit card associations as well. And once we’re in this vein, we mine it, covering Silicon Valley’s concerted campaign to make sure Donald Trump can’t repeat 2016 in 2020. He’s been deplatformed at Twitch this week for something he said in 2016.  And Reddit dumped his enormous subreddit for failure to observe its censorship rules – which I point out are designed to censor only the majority. I argue it’s time to go after the speech police.  

Nick takes us to a remarkable Washington story. He thinks it’s about a questionable Trump administration effort to redirect $10 million in “freedom tool” funding from cryptolibertarians to Falun Gong coders. I point out that US government funds going to the cryptolibertarians were paying the salary of the notorious Jake Applebaum and buying tools like TAILS that have protected appalling sextortionist criminals. Really, the money would be better spent if we burned it on cold days.

Returning to This Week in Hacked Phones, Nick explains the latest man in the middle attack that requires the phone user to do nothing but visit a website. Any website.  Dave sets out the strikingly sophisticated and massive international surveillance system now aimed by China at Uighers all around the world.  And Nick warns of two bugs that, if you haven’t spent the weekend fixing, may already be exploited on your network.                       

Download the 323rd Episode (mp3)

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-323.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:14pm EDT

For the first time in twenty years, the Justice Department is finally free to campaign for the encryption access bill it has always wanted.  Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced the Lawful Access To Encrypted Data Act. (Ars Technica, Press Release) As Nick Weaver points out in the news roundup, this bill is not a compromise. It’s exactly what the Justice Department wants – a mandate that every significant service provider or electronic device maker build in the ability to decrypt any data it has encrypted when served with a lawful warrant.

In our interview, Under Secretary Chris Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, drops in for a chat on election security, cyber espionage aimed at coronavirus researchers, why CISA needs new administrative subpoena authority, the value of secure DNS, and how cybersecurity has changed in the three years since he took his job.

Germany’s highest court has ruled that the German competition authority can force Facebook to obtain user consent for internal data sharing, to prevent abuse of a dominant position in the social networking market. Maury Shenk and I are dubious about the use of competition law for privacy enforcement. Those doubts could also send the ruling to a still higher forum – the European Court of Justice.

You might think that NotPetya is three years in the rear-view mirror, but the idea of spreading malware via tax software, pioneered by the GRU with NotPetya, seems to have inspired a copycat in China. Maury reports that a Chinese bank is requiring foreign firms to install a tax app that, it turns out, has a covert backdoor. (Ars Technica, Report, NBC)

The Assange prosecution is looking less like a first amendment case and more like a garden variety hacking conspiracy thanks to the government’s amended indictment. (DOJ, Washington Post) And, as usual, the more information we have about Assange, the worse he looks.

Jim Carafano, new to the podcast, argues that face recognition is coming no matter how hard the press and NGOs work to demonize it. And working hard they are. The ACLU has filed a complaint against the Detroit police, faulting them for arresting the wrong man based on a faulty match provided by facial recognition software. (Ars Technica, Complaint)

The Facebook advertiser moral panic is gaining adherents, including Unilever and Verizon, but Nick and I wonder if the reason is politics or a collapse in ad budgets. Whatever the cause, it’s apparently led Mark Zuckerberg to promise more enforcement of Facebook’s policies.

In short hits, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent a letter to chief executives of five large tech companies asking them to ensure social media platforms are not used to incite violence. Twitter has permanently suspended the account of leak publisher DDoSecrets. (Ars Technica, Cyber Scoop). Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) was told what he must have known when he filed his case: he cannot sue Twitter for defamation over tweets posted by a parody account posing as his cow. (Ars Technica, Ruling) Nick explains why it’s good news all around as Comcast partners with Mozilla to deploy encrypted DNS lookups on the Firefox browser. And Burkov gets a nine-year sentence for his hacking.

Download the 322nd Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-322.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50am EDT

This is the week when the movement to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act got serious. The Justice Department released a substantive report suggesting multiple reforms. I was positive about many of them (my views here). Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has proposed a somewhat similar set of changes in his bill, introduced this week. Nate Jones and I dig into the provisions, and both of us expect interest from Democrats as well as Republicans. 

The National Security Agency has launched a pilot program to provide secure domain name system (DNS) resolver services for US defense contractors. If that’s such a good idea, I ask, why doesn’t everybody do it, and Nick Weaver tells us they can. Phil Reitinger’s Global Cyberalliance offers Quad9 for this purpose. 

Gus Hurwitz brings us up to date on a host of European cyberlaw developments, from terror takedowns (Reuters, Tech Crunch) to competition law to the rise of a disturbingly unaccountable and self-confident judiciary. Microsoft’s Brad Smith, meanwhile, wins the prize for best marriage of business self-interest and Zeitgeist in the twenty-first century.

Hackers used LinkedIn’s private messaging feature to send documents containing malicious code which defense contractor employees were tricked into opening. Nick points out just what a boon LinkedIn is for cyberespionage (including his own), and I caution listeners not to display their tattoos on LinkedIn.

Speaking of fools who kind of have it coming, Nick tells the story of the now former eBay executives who have been charged with sustained and imaginatively-over-the-top harassment of the owners of a newsletter that had not been deferential to eBay. (Wired, DOJ)

It’s hard to like the defendants in that case, I argue, but the law they’ve been charged under is remarkably sweeping. Apparently it’s a felony to intentionally use the internet to cause substantial emotional distress. Who knew? Most of us who use Twitter thought that was its main purpose. I also discover that special protections under the law are extended not only to prevent internet threats and harassment of service animals but also horses of any kind. Other livestock are apparently left unprotected. PETA, call your office.

Child abusers cheered when Zoom buckled to criticism of its limits on end-to-end encryption, but Nick insists that the new policy offers safeguards for policing misuse of the platform. (Ars Technica, Zoom)

I take a minute to roast Republicans in Congress who have announced that no FISA reauthorization will be adopted until John Durham’s investigation of FISA abuses is done, which makes sense until you realize that the FISA provisions up for reauthorization have nothing to do with the abuses Durham is investigating. So we’re giving international terrorists a break from scrutiny simply because the President can’t keep the difference straight.

Nate notes that a story previewed in April has now been confirmed: Team Telecom is recommending the blocking of a Hong Kong-US undersea cable over national security concerns.

Gus reminds us that a bitter trade fight between the US and Europe over taxes on Silicon Valley services is coming. (Politico, Ars Technica)

Nick and I mourn the complete meltdown of mobile phone contact tracing. I argue that from here on out, some portion of coronavirus deaths should be classified as mechanogenic (caused by engineering malpractice). Nick proposes instead a naming convention built around the Therac-25

And we close with a quick look at the latest data dump from Distributed Denial of Secrets. Nick thinks it’s strikingly contemporaneous but also surprisingly unscandalizing.

Download the 321st Episode (mp3). 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-321.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:58pm EDT

Our interview this week is with Chris Bing, a cybersecurity reporter with Reuters, and John Scott-Railton, Senior Researcher at Citizen Lab and PhD student at UCLA. John coauthored Citizen Lab’s report last week on BellTroX and Indian hackers for hire, and Chris reported for Reuters on the same organization’s activities – and criminal exposure – in the United States. The most remarkable aspect of the story is how thoroughly normalized hacking legal and lobbying opponents seems to have become, at least in parts of the US legal and investigative ecosystem. I suggest that instead of a long extradition battle, the US give the head of BellTroX a ticket to the US and a guaranteed income for the next few years as a witness against his customers. 

 

In the news roundup, Nick Weaver tells the remarkable story of how Facebook funded an exploit aimed at taking down a particularly vile online abuser of young girls who was nearly invulnerable because he was using TAILS, the secure, thumb drive-based communication system (Vice, Gizmodo). This is a great story because it really doesn’t fit into any of the stilted narratives into which most internet security stories are usually jammed.

 

Nick also notes Big Tech’s pledge to do more to stop child abuse online. I suggest that only Dr. Evil would be impressed by the amounts of money being invested in the campaign.

 

Well, another week, another Zoom bomb.  Now the company is taking heat because it terminated several Tiananmen Square commemorative Zoom sessions after China complained (NYT, Zoom). David Kris and I don’t think Zoom had much choice about cutting off the Chinese customers.  Terminating the US account holder who organized a session, however, was a bad move – and one that’s since been corrected by the company. 

 

Nate Jones and I square off again for Round 545 on content moderation, spurred this time by reports that Sen. Josh Hawley is drafting legislation inspired by the Trump Administration’s Section 230 EO. Meanwhile several Republican senators are pushing the FCC to act on the order. Nate and I find rare bipartisan common ground on the idea that Congress should require social media companies to take down foreign government online messaging – and maybe work with the US government to stop it at the source.

 

David reports on a fairly (and deservedly) obscure EU cloud independence project. It seems to have been embraced by Microsoft, which I accuse of going full AT&T – embracing government regulation as a competitive differentiator. As if to prove my point, Microsoft announces that it’s getting out of the business of doing facial recognition for the police – until it can persuade Congress to regulate its competitors.  

Why are spies targeting vaccine research? Nate highlights the excellent Risky Biz newsletter analysis of what drives COVID-19 cyberespionage. 

Nick flags the potential significance of ARM wrestling, as the UK chip designer ARM fights its JV partner for control of its Chinese joint venture. Nick also assigns a “moderate” threat label to the latest Universal Plug n Pwn exploit. It’s only moderate because there are so many pwned IOT devices already in a position to DDOS targets of opportunity.

 

In quick hits, I note that Israel has halted its controversial use of intelligence capabilities to monitor the spread of the coronavirus, but the government reserves the right to revive monitoring if a second wave shows up (JPost, Yahoo). Poor Brewster Kahle is looking like an internet hippie who fell asleep at Woodstock and woke up at Altamont. The Internet Archive is ending its program of offering free, unrestricted copies of e-books, but the publishers who sued over that program may decide to keep suing until they’ve broken his entire “digital library” model, and maybe the Internet Archive as well (NYT, Ars Technica). That would be a shame. Finally, you can have a thousand talents, but honesty may not be one of them. Charles Lieber, the Harvard University professor arrested for lying about his lucrative China contracts, has now been indicted on false statement charges. 

Download the 320th Episode (mp3)

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-320.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03pm EDT

Our interview with Ben Buchanan begins with his report on how artificial intelligence may influence national and cybersecurity. Ben’s quick takes: better for defense than offense, and probably even better for propaganda. The best part, in my view, is Ben’s explanation of how to poison the AI that’s trying to hack you—and the scary possibility that China is already poisoning Silicon Valley’s AI.

By popular request, we’ve revisited a story we skipped last week to do a pretty deep dive on the decision (for now) that Capital One can’t claim attorney-client work product privilege in a Mandiant intrusion response report prepared after its breach. Steptoe litigator Charles Michael and I talk about how IR firms and CISOs should respond to the decision, assuming it stands up on appeal.

Maury Shenk notes the latest of about a hundred warnings, this time from Christopher Krebs, the director of DHS’s cybersecurity agency and the head of Britain’s GCHQ, that China’s intelligence service—and every other intelligence service on the planet—seem to be targeting COVID-19 research.

Maury takes us through the week in internet copyright fights. Ideological copyright enforcement meets the world’s dumbest takedown bots as Twitter removes a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd due to a copyright claim. The video is still available on Trump’s YouTube channel.

We puzzle over Instagram’s failure to provide a license to users of its embedding API. The announcement could come as an unwelcome surprise to users who believed that embedding images, rather than hosting them directly, provides insulation against copyright claims.

Finally, much as I love Brewster Kahle, I’m afraid that Kahle’s latest move marks his transition from internet hippie to “holy fool”—and maybe a broke one. His Internet Archive, the online library best known for maintaining the Internet Wayback Machine makes scanned copies of books available to the public on terms that resemble a library’s. The setup was arguably legal—and no one was suing—until Kahle decided to let people download more books than his company had paid for. Now he faces an ugly copyright lawsuit.

Speaking of ugly lawsuits, Mark MacCarthy and Paul Rosenzweig comment on the Center for Democracy and Technology’s complaint that Trump violated tech companies’ right to free speech with his executive order on section 230. (Reuters, NYT) I question whether this lawsuit will get far.

This Week in Working the Ref: Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg are facing criticism from users, competitors, civil rights organizations for failing to censor the people those groups hate. (Ars Technica, Politico). Meanwhile, Snap scores points by ending promotion of Trump’s account after concluding his tweets incited violence.

Where is Nate Jones when you need him? He would love this story: A Twitter user sacrificed a Twitter account to show that Trump is treated differently than others by the platform. Of course, the panel notes, that’s pretty much what Twitter says it does.

In quick hits, I serve notice that no one should be surprised if Justice brings an adtech antitrust suit against Google. The Israeli government announces an attack on its infrastructure so late that the press has already identified and attributed its retaliatory cyberattack on Iran’s ports. And somebody pretty good—probably not the Russians, I argue—is targeting industrial firms.

Download the 319th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-319.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT

This episode features an in-depth (and occasionally contentious) interview with Bart Gellman about his new book, Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State, which can be found on his website and on Amazon. I’m tagged in the book as having been sharply critical of Gellman’s Snowden stories, and I live up to the billing in this interview. He responds to my critique in good part. Gellman offers detailed insights into Edward Snowden’s motives and relationships to foreign governments, as well as how journalism – and journalistic lawyering – is done in the Big Leagues.

Our news roundup focuses heavily on the Trump Administration’s executive order on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (Wall Street Journal Washington Post). I end up debating all three of my co-panelists – Nate Jones, Nick Weaver, and Evelyn Douek, rejoining us on a particularly good day, given her expertise. We agree to disagree on whether Silicon Valley applies its rules in a fashion that discriminates against conservatives. More interesting is the rough consensus that Silicon Valley’s heavy influence over our speech is worth worrying about and that transparency is one of the better ways to discipline that influence. No one but me is willing to consider the possibility that the executive order represents a good step toward transparency. 

Nate and I find much room to agree, though, on the tragicomedy emerging from the reauthorization of three relatively straightforward FISA provisions. Stay tuned for a House-Senate conference, plus heavy lobbying of the President. 

Nick explains NSA’s outing of Russian military hackers targeting mail relay software (CyberScoop NSA). 

Nate and I cover the latest in US-China decoupling – the FCC and Justice Department enthusiasm for kicking Chinese telecom firms out of the country and, in a possible new front, heavy scrutiny being given to Chinese-built transformers

Evelyn tells us that, as a visa holder, she’s definitely hoping that the courts overturn US rules forcing visa applicants to disclose their social media handles. I predict that her hopes will be dashed.

Finally, Nick explains who needs a “quantum holographic catalyzer” to protect against 5G telecom emissions.  Quick answer: No one.  It’s a fake cure for fake malady

Download the 318th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-318.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51am EDT

Our interview is with Mara Hvistendahl, an investigative journalist at The Intercept and author of a new book, The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage, as well as a deep WIRED article on the least known Chinese AI champion, iFlytek. Mara’s book raises questions about the expense and motivations of the FBI’s pursuit of commercial spying from China. 

In the News Roundup, Gus Hurwitz, Nick Weaver, and I wrestle with whether Apple’s lawsuit against Corellium is really aimed at the FBI. The answer looks to be affirmative since an Apple victory would make it harder for contractors to find hackable flaws in the iPhone.

Germany’s top court ruled that German intelligence can no longer freely spy on foreigners – or share intelligence with other western countries. The court seems to be trying to leave the door open to something that looks like intelligence collection, but the hurdles are many. Which reminds me that I somehow missed the 100th anniversary of the Weimar Republic.

There’s Trouble Right Here in Takedown City. Gus lays out all the screwy and maybe even dangerous takedown decisions that came to light last week. YouTube censored epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski for opposing lockdown. It suspended and then reinstated a popular Android podcast app for the crime of cataloging COVID-19 content. We learned that anyone can engage in a self-help right to be forgotten with a bit of backdating and a plagiarism claim. Classical musicians are taking it on the chin in their battle with aggressive copyright enforcement bots and a sluggish Silicon Valley response.

In that climate, who can blame the Supreme Court for ducking cases asking for a ruling on the scope of Section 230? They’ve dodged one already, and we predict the same outcome in the next one. 

Finally, Gus unpacks the recent report on the DMCA from the Copyright Lobbying Office – er, the Copyright Office.

With relief, we turn to Matthew Heiman for more cyber and less law. It sure looks like Israel launched a disruptive cyberattack on Iranian port facility. It was probably a response to Iranian cybe-rmeddling with Israeli water systems.

Nick covers Bizarro-world cybersecurity: It turns out malware authors now can hire their own black-market security pentesters

I ask about open-source security and am met with derisive laughter, which certainly seems fair after flaws were found in dozens of applications

I also cover new developments in AI. And the news from AI speech imitation is that Presidents Trump and Obama have fake-endorsed Lyrebird. 

Gus reminds us that most of privacy law is about unintended consequences, like telling Grandma she’s violating GDPR by posting her grandchildren's photos without their parents' consent.

Beerint at last makes its appearance, as it turns out that military and intelligence personnel can be tracked with a beer enthusiast app. 

Finally, in the wake of Joe Rogan’s deal with Spotify, I offer assurances that the Cyberlaw Podcast is not going to sell out for $100 million. 

Download the 317th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-317.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

Peter Singer continues his excursion into what he calls “useful fiction” – thrillers that explore real-world implications of emerging technologies – with Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution, to be released May 26, 2020. This interview explores a thoroughly researched (and footnoted!) host of new technologies, many already in production or on the horizon, all packed inside a plot-driven novel. The book is a painless way to understand what these technologies make possible and their impact on actual human beings. And the interview ranges widely over the policy implications, plus a few plot spoilers.

In the News Roundup, David Kris covers the latest Congressional FISA Follies, leading me into a rant on the utter irresponsibility of subjecting national security authorities to regular expiration – and regular ransom demands from the least responsible elements of Congress. Speaking of FISA, it turns out that the December Pensacola shootings were hatched by al-Qaeda’s Yemen franchise. Why are we only learning this in May? Because the evidence comes from an iPhone whose security Apple refused to find a way around. The FBI’s self-help solution worked in the end, but not until the trail had gone cold. 

Decoupling is in overdrive this week. Nick Weaver talks about the move by the Trump Administration to achieve semiconductor self-sufficiency – and the not-coincidental announcements that TSMC will build a chip factory in Arizona and that the Commerce Department has drafted a new export rule aimed at making it much harder for TSMC to build chips for Huawei. In response, China is preparing a list of unreliable US suppliers of technology. I wonder whether putting companies on the list for diversifying their supply chain out of China will have the long-term effect of making companies more reluctant to open new supply relationships with Chinese companies.

David and I note that recent U.S. accusations of Chinese and Iranian cyber intrusions on COVID-19 research may be more than just the usual imprecations. 

And Nick explains why so many US professors are going to jail for undisclosed China ties. The key word is “undisclosed.”

Mark MacCarthy previews France’s (and Germany’s and the EU’s and the UK’s) increasingly tough sanctions for US social media firms that fail to remove "hate speech" and other bad content within 24 hours (or sometimes one hour). More and more, it seems, Section 230 immunity is just a local U.S. ordinance.

Mark and Nick review the latest trial balloon from Europe’s technocrats: How about a Chinese firewall for Europe?  Some apparently respectable policy thinkers working for the European Parliament seem interested in such an idea. 

David and Nick find themselves agreeing with the latest release from DHS’s CISA pouring cold water on online voting

In quick hits, David notes the Trump administration’s now routine extension of the "telecom national security" Executive Order, Nick brings us This Week in NSO Bashing, I touch on a ransomware and doxing threat that has tripped up a celebrity law firm, and Nick and I muse on why cell phone contact tracing seems about to jump the shark.

We close with a surprising catfishing story.

Download the 316th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-316.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EDT

J.P. Morgan once responded to President Teddy Roosevelt’s charge that he’d violated federal antitrust law by saying, “If we have done anything wrong, send your man to see my man, and we’ll fix it up.” That used to be the gold standard for monopolist arrogance in dealing with government, but Google and Apple have put J.P. Morgan in the shade with their latest instruction to the governments of the world: You can’t use our app to trace COVID-19 infections unless you promise not to use it for quarantine or law enforcement purposes. They are only able to do this because the two companies have more or less 99 percent of the phone OS market. That’s more control than Morgan had of U.S. railways, and their dominance apparently allows them to say, “If you think we’ve done something wrong, don’t bother to send your man; ours is too busy to meet.” Nate Jones and I discuss the question of Silicon Valley overreach in this episode. (In that vein, I apologize unreservedly to John D. Rockefeller, to whom I mistakenly attributed the quote.) The sad result is that a promising technological adjunct to contact tracing has been delayed and muddled by ideological engineers to the point where it isn’t likely to be deployed and used in a timely way.

Another lesson we draw in today’s episode is for authoritarian governments: Worry less about Cyber Command and more about NGOs. Citizen Lab has released a great paper making the case that WeChat monitors its users outside China, not to suppress their speech but to flag documents and images for later suppression inside China. Ironically, Matthew Heiman notes, Western users of WeChat who circulate human rights material are giving China’s censors the ability to hash and block that material as soon as it crosses the Great Firewall.

Meanwhile, Nate points out, Bellingcat has done for Russia’s GRU what Citizen Lab did for China. Perhaps inspired by Germany’s indictment of Dmitry Badin for hacking the Bundestag, Bellingcat doxes him to a fare-thee-well, finding his phone number, car registration, GRU office address and preposterously bad password.

David Kris explains the intersection of export control law and the Law of Unintended Consequences, as the U.S. Commerce Department finds that its efforts to isolate Huawei may be excluding U.S. firms from some standards bodies.

Anthony Anscombe joins us from Steptoe’s class action practice to unpack the recent Seventh Circuit decision on Article III standing and Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act.

Israel’s passive-aggressive Supreme Court, meanwhile, has found a second way to say, “Meh,” to the Israeli government’s use of intelligence tools to do contact tracing.

Matthew lays out what’s at stake as the Senate tries again to pass its FISA bill. That may happen as early as today.

In short hits, everybody’s government hackers are adding COVID-19 to their targets, going after everyone from the WHO to coronavirus researchers. I make an effort to explain why Apple has brought a DMCA copyright lawsuit against Corellium. It’s all about the “chilling effect” on security research. And maybe one particular Five Eyes researcher. I make the case for Justice Department intervention on Corellium’s behalf—or at least Azimuth’s. Banjo’s CEO steps down. And where is Jean-Paul Sartre when you need him? He’s the only one who can resolve the odd dispute over “authenticity” between Twitter and the U.S. State Department.

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-315.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT

We begin with a new US measure to secure its supply chain for a critical infrastructure – the bulk power grid. David Kris unpacks a new Executive Order restricting purchases of foreign equipment for the grid.

Nick Weaver, meanwhile, explains the remarkable extent of surveillance built into Xiaomi phones and questions the company’s claim that it was merely acquiring pseudonymous ad-related data like others in the industry.

It wouldn’t be the Cyberlaw Podcast if we didn’t wrangle over mobile phones and the coronavirus. Mark MacCarthy says that several countries – Australia, the UK, and perhaps France – are deviating from the Gapple model for using phones for infection tracing. Several have bought in. India, meanwhile, is planning a much more government-driven approach to using phone apps to combat the pandemic.

Mark ventures into even more contested territory in response to an article in The Atlantic by Jack Goldsmith and Andrew Woods, who argue that China has won the debate with John Perry Barlow over whether the Internet will be a force for free speech. Mark and I more or less agree, which sends me off on a rant about the growing self-confidence and ham-handedness of Big Tech as they get comfortable in their role as Guardians of What You Can’t Say on the Internet. Things you can’t say include plausible arguments about the still highly unsettled question of how best to deal with COVID-19 and descriptions of treatment options that have been entertained by President Trump without establishment approval, not to mention “unverified” statements (not, notably, false ones) that could cause social unrest. Just reading such things, it turns out, will lead at least Facebook to track you down and tell you that it noticed and wants to correct your flirtation with thoughtcrime – a practice that earned it praise from Rep. Adam Schiff.

Nick and I note the difficulty Facebook is having getting out of FOSTA cases in Texas, and I ask why FOSTA hasn’t already spelled doom for end-to-end encryption since it basically does what the EARN IT Act does, and all right-thinking Americans have been told that EARN IT is The End of End-to-End Encryption.

David explains why Amazon is facing tough new scrutiny from both parties: A Wall Street Journal article that questioned the accuracy of Amazon testimony before Congress has turned into claims of perjury, a demand that Jeff Bezos testify, and suggestions that the administration open a criminal antitrust probe.

“You can’t decouple from me! I’m decoupling from you!” That’s the sentiment from China anyway as they push forward with their own remarkably familiar supply chain security regulations. David explains that while the rules are similar to those in the United States, they’re tougher and more likely to be implemented in a slow, inexorable way.

Download the 314th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-314.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:43pm EDT

In today’s interview, I spar with Harriet Moynihan over the application of international law to cyberattacks, a topic on which she has written with clarity and in detail. We disagree politely but profoundly. I make the case that international law is distinct from what works in cyberspace and is inconsistent with either clarity or effectiveness in deterring cyberattacks. Harriet argues that international law has been a central principle of the post-1945 international system and one that has helped to keep a kind of peace among nations. It’s a good exchange.

In the News Roundup, David Kris and I discuss the state of Team Telecom, which is taking unwonted (but probably welcome) fire for not being tough enough on state-owned Chinese telecom firms. Predictably, Team Telecom is going with the flow and reportedly seeking to knock four such firms out of the US market.

Maury Shenk reports that Vietnam is suspected of hacking Chinese health authorities. In response to the accusations, the Vietnamese released what looks to me like a word-for-word clone of Chinese cyber espionage boilerplate denials.

Gapple’s design for a COVID-19 tracing app isn’t the best way to track infections, I claim, but it’s all that Google and Apple are willing to let governments do because of their exquisitely refined and self-evidently superior sense of privacy. Nick Weaver disagrees, arguing that the Gapple system preserves privacy and allows health authorities all the information that they really need. Governments are mostly falling in line, either because they buy Nick’s argument or because they have decided that their Silicon Valley overlords have the ability to wreck any more centralized system. France is still fighting for its vision of contact tracing. But Australia seems to be adopting a lightly tweaked version of the Gapple model to add some centralization. And Germany seems to be surrendering as well.

Several senators want Cyber Command and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to do more to deter coronavirus hackers, David reports. More importantly, he points out that sending a military organization to attack a civilian criminal gang will raise a host of legal issues that should be sorted out before rather than after the attack begins.

Failure to protect your client from Chinese government hackers might be malpractice, a DC court rules. But as Maury points out, there’s a long road from winning a motion to dismiss and winning at trial, so the lesson to be drawn from this case won’t be certain for some time.

Three years later, the Shadow Brokers leak is making news, and still providing challenges for private security researchers. Nick reports on how a three-year-old leak led to the latest revelation of an unknown advanced persistent threat (APT) group.

Nick and I touch on the confused reporting about the latest filing in the mud fight between Facebook and NSO Group over NSO’s hacks of WhatsApp customers. NSO, Facebook says, has used a lot of US servers in those attacks. That matters for the technical question of whether NSO can be sued in the United States, but the volume (several hundred instances) also suggests to Nick that NSO did more than throw exploits over the wall to its customers – it was arguably offering espionage as a service.

David dings IBM for its handling of a researcher’s disclosure of four zero-days – and that leads to a dive into what a good bug bounty program can and can’t do.

Maury notes that Amazon is getting new scrutiny for its handling of third-party sales data, including suspicions on Congress’s part that it may have been lied to. This isn’t the last we’ll hear of this story.

In quick hits, I am nonplussed by Vimeo’s willingness to outsource its definition of “hate group” to the controversial Southern Poverty Law Center.

Nick celebrates the end to Crown Sterling’s “defamation” lawsuit against BlackHat, which has finally been settled.

And Nick and I mark the surprising ouster of Marc Rotenberg, EPIC’s long-time director, after Rotenberg continued to go to work and failed to notify staffers after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Download the 313th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-313.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:06pm EDT

In this episode, I interview Thomas Rid about his illuminating study of Russian disinformation, Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare. It lays out a century of Soviet, East European, and Russian disinformation, beginning with an elaborate and successful operation against the White Russian expatriate resistance to Bolshevik rule in the 1920s. Rid has dug into recently declassified material using digital tools that enable him to tell previously untold tales – the Soviets’ remarkable success in turning opposition to US nuclear missiles in Europe into a mass movement (and the potential shadow it casts on the legendary Adm. Hyman Rickover, father of the US nuclear navy), the unimpressive record of US disinformation compared to the ruthless Soviet version, and the fake American lobbyist (and real German agent) who persuaded a German conservative legislator to save Willy Brandt’s leftist government. We close with two very different predictions about the kind of disinformation we’ll see in the 2020 campaign.

In the news, David Kris, Nick Weaver, and I trade perspectives on the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari on the question when it’s a crime to access a computer “in excess of authority.” I predict that the Justice Department’s reading of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act will lose, but it’s far from clear what will replace the Justice Department’s interpretation.

Remember when the House left town without acting on FISA renewal? That’s looking like a worse and worse decision, as Congress goes weeks without returning and Justice is left unable to use utterly uncontroversial capabilities in more and more cases. Matthew Heiman explains.

In Justice Department briefs, all the most damaging admissions are down in the footnotes, and it looks like that’s true for the inspector general’s report on the Carter Page FISA. Recently declassified footnotes from the report make the FBI’s pursuit of the FISA order look even worse, in my view. But at the end of the day, the footnotes don’t add much to suspicions of a partisan motivation in the imbroglio.

Speaking of IG reports, the DOD inspector general manages to raise the possibility of political skullduggery in the big DOD cloud computing award and then to offer a way to stick it to Amazon anyway. Meanwhile, the judge overseeing the bid protest gives the Pentagon a chance for a do-over

Matthew covers intel warnings about China-linked ‘Electric Panda’ hackers and that the Syrian government is spreading surveillance malware via coronavirus apps. And David notes that a Zoom zero-day is being offered for $500,000.Nick and I mix it up, first over the Gapple infection tracing plan and their fight with the UK National Health Service and then over Facebook’s decision to suppress posts about demonstrations that protest the lockdown by violating the lockdown.

Download the 312th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: 201782.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:18pm EDT

The Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s report was released into the teeth of the COVID-19 crisis and hasn’t attracted the press it probably deserved. But the commissioners included four sitting Congressmen who plan to push for the adoption of its recommendations. And the Commission is going to be producing more material – and probably more press attention – over the coming weeks. In this episode, I interview Sen. Angus King, co-chair of the Commission, and Dr. Samantha Ravich, one of the commissioners.

We focus almost exclusively on what the Commission’s recommendations mean for the private sector. The Commission has proposed a remarkably broad range of cybersecurity measures for business. The Commission recommends a new products liability regime for assemblers of final goods (including software) who don’t promptly patch vulnerabilities. It proposes two new laws requiring notice not only of personal data breaches but also of other significant cyber incidents. It calls for a federal privacy and security law – without preemption. It updates Sarbanes-Oxley to include cybersecurity principles. And lest you think the Commission is in love with liability, it also proposed liability immunities for critical infrastructure owners operating under government supervision during a crisis. We cover all these proposals, plus the Commission’s recommendation of a new role for the Intelligence Community in providing support to critical US companies.

In the news, Nick Weaver and I dig deep into the Google and Apple proposals for tracking COVID-19 infections. I’ve got a separate post in the works on the topic, but the short version is that I think Google and Apple have dramatically overvalued privacy interests and downgraded, you know, actually tracking infections. Nick and I agree that the app should operate on an opt-out basis, not opt-in.

The Great Decoupling, part 278: It looks as though China Telecom will be getting the boot from US telecom markets, at least if Team Telecom has anything to say about it. And speaking of Team Telecom, Brian Egan tells us that it has a new charter and a new, catchy acronym: CAFPUSTTSS!

Nick and I dig into a Ninth Circuit decision that may be bound for the Supreme Court. It holds that Facebook can be held liable for wiretapping when it gets information from its widely deployed “like” buttons on third-party sites.

Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and the EU has to regulate tech, coronavirus or not. Maury Shenk reports, bemusedly.

Matching him bemusement for bemusement, Nick tries to explain a French ruling that Google must pay news outlets for content (and can’t stop linking to the outlets).

Maury explains the 5G-coronavirus conspiracy that has Brits burning cellular masts.

Nick explains how to make a “smart” lock spill its secrets, and how to fall foul of the FTC.

And in quick takes, the COVID-19 cyber threat has the US and UK authorities joining hands against cyberattacks, the Australian government is hacking criminals who are exploiting coronavirus, and it turns out that IoT devices may defect to work for foreign intelligence agencies.

Download the 311th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-311.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:29am EDT

Nate Jones and I dig deep into Twitter’s decision to delete Rudy Giuliani’s tweet (quoting Charlie Kirk of Turning Point) to the effect that hydroxychloroquine had been shown to be 100% effective against the coronavirus and that Gov. Whitmer (D-MI) had threatened doctors prescribing it out of anti-Trump animus. Twitter claimed that it was deleting tweets that “go directly against guidance from authoritative sources” and separately implied that the tweet was an improper attack on Gov. Whitmer. 

So where did Twitter find the “authoritative guidance” that Giuliani was supposed to be “going directly against”? Of course, Twitter isn’t explaining itself, which raises questions about the basis for its action. (I offered two of its representatives a chance to come on the podcast to offer a defense; they didn’t respond.)

In short, all the people who’ve been telling us our freedoms are at risk as a result of the health emergency might be right, but the source of the danger isn’t government. It’s Silicon Valley.

Nate thinks (probably correctly) that Kirk and Giuliani were wrong about the “100% effective” claim, and that people like them and the president are going to get people to take dangerous drugs without medical advice if they aren’t policed. It’s a spirited exchange.

In contrast, Paul Rosenzweig and I find a fair amount of common ground outside this week’s media consensus that Zoom is either evil or stupid, maybe both, for its handling of privacy and security of users. No doubt there are a staggering number of privacy and security holes in the product, and the company will get sued for several of them. But we suspect that many of the problems would have been exposed and fixed over the course of the three years it would have taken Zoom to reach the levels of use it’s instead reached in three weeks. One error, exposing LinkedIn data to unrelated users with the same Internet domain, seems to have hit Dutch users especially hard

The DOJ inspector general has found widespread gaps in the FBI’s compliance with its now-famous Woods procedures. Matthew Heiman and I try to put the damaging report in perspective. It’s hard to know at this point how serious the gaps are, though the numbers suggest that some will be serious. Meanwhile, the FISA court has ordered a rush evaluation from Justice of more or less exactly the same questions the IG is asking. We manage to agree that the court’s June 15 deadline is not realistic given everything else the same group of lawyers will be doing between now and November. 

Matthew tells us that the Saudis are suspected of a phone spying campaign in the United States. I point out that foreign location collection is pretty much built into the SS7 phone system, so the worst that can be said about the event is that the Saudis were caught doing “too much” spying in the US.

Paul comes down agreeing with a new court ruling that violating a site’s terms of service isn’t criminal hacking. And now that that’s settled, I have a research proposal for the Hewlett Foundation.

Washington State has adopted a facial recognition law that Microsoft likes, Nate tells us. No surprise, I suggest, since the law will only regulate governments, not the private sector. I’m not a fan; it looks like a law that virtually guarantees that any facial recognition system will be forced to “correct” empirical results in favor of quotas for “protected subpopulations.” This leads, in light of Zoom’s problems, to the question of whether that includes the Dutch.

Who is hacking the WHO? Who isn’t? Matthew notes that Iran has joined what must be a crowd of eavesdroppers in WHO networks.

Nostalgic for the days before the coronavirus? How about this blast from the past: Marriott has revealed a data breach exposing (some) personal data for up to 5.2 million customers.

I close the episode with the good news that some coders seem to be taking up the challenge I offered in the last episode and on Lawfare to construct an infection tracing system using mobile phones that will work in the US.

Download the 310th Episode (mp3).

Take our listener poll at steptoe.com/podcastpoll. You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-310.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32am EDT

In this bonus episode, we present a lightly edited interview about Israel’s technology- and surveillance-heavy approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. In it, Matthew Waxman, Liviu Librescu Professor of Law at Columbia University, and I talk to Yuval Shany, a noted Israeli human rights expert and professor at Hebrew University. We cover the particularly fraught political crisis that the virus exacerbated, the Israeli government’s use of counterterrorism tools to trace contacts of infected individuals, and the significance of locational privacy in the face of a deadly contagion. Our thanks to both Nachum Braverman of Academic Exchange and Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare for making the interview possible.

Download the 309th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-309.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am EDT

David Kris, Paul Rosenzweig and I dive deep on the big tech issue of the COVID-19 contagion: Whether (but mostly how) to use mobile phone location services to fight the virus. We cover the Israeli approach, as well as a host of solutions adopted in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and elsewhere. I’m a big fan of Singapore, which produced in a week an app that Nick Weaver thought would take a year.

In our interview, evelyn douek, currently at the Berkman Klein Center and an SJD candidate at Harvard, takes us deep into content moderation. Displaying a talent for complexifying an issue we all want to simplify, she explains why we can’t get live with social platform censorship and why we can’t live without it. She walks us through the growth of content moderation, from spam, through child pornography and on to terrorism and “coordinated inauthentic behavior”—the identification of which, evelyn assures me, does not require an existentialist dance instructor. Instead, it’s the latest and least easily defined category of speech to be suppressed by Big Tech.

Returning to the News Roundup, Nate Jones and evelyn mull the head-spinning change the virus has made in the public reputation of Big Tech, but Nate wonders if Silicon Valley's PR glow will last.

Meanwhile, China is celebrating its self-proclaimed victory over COVID-19 by borrowing Russian tactics to spread coronavirus disinformation. I argue that any country adopting Russia’s patented “Who knows what’s true?” tactics probably has something to hide.

We take advantage of evelyn’s Aussie ties to get a translation (and an apology) for Australia’s latest venture into the business of blocking graphic violent content.

David and Paul review the White House’s National Strategy for 5G Security. They talk for two minutes, but they say more than the strategy.

The House of Representative has irresponsibly bolted for home without even a temporary reauthorization of expiring FISA authorities. Paul and David explain why that isn’t quite the disaster it sounds like. Quite.

David says the Justice Department has brought the first fraud case stemming from the coronavirus crisis, and I suggest that case itself has a whiff of false advertising about it.

Amazon is complaining that the Pentagon is trying to fix some of the contract award problems in the big Defense Department cloud procurement. Paul is more sympathetic than I am.

And Paul questions the wisdom of failing to delay CCPA enforcement while the coronavirus rages across California.

Download the 308th Episode (mp3).

 

Take our listener poll at steptoe.com/podcastpoll. You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-308.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:42pm EDT

That’s the question I debate with David Kris and Nick Weaver as we explore the ways in which governments are using location data to fight the spread of COVID-19. Phone location data is being used to enforce quarantines and to track contacts with infected people. It’s useful for both, but Nick thinks the second application may not really be ready for a year – too late for this outbreak.

 

Our interview subject is Jason Healey, who has a long history with Cyber Command and a deep recent oeuvre of academic commentary on cyber conflict. Jay explains Cyber Command’s doctrine of “persistent engagement” and “defending forward” in words that I finally understand. It makes sense in terms of Cyber Command’s aspirations as well as the limitations it labored under in the Obama Administration, but I end up wondering whether it’s going to be different from “deterrence through having the best offense.” Nothing wrong with that, in my view – as long as you have the best offense by a long shot, something that is by no means proven.

 

We return to the news to discover the whole idea of national security sunsets looking dumber than it did when it first saw the light of day (which is saying something). Several important FISA authorities have fallen to the floor, Matthew Heiman reports. Thanks to Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee, I might add (Nick blames President Trump, who certainly stepped in at a bad time). Both the House and the Senate passed measures to keep FISA authorities alive, but the measures were completely different and out of sync. Maybe the House will fix that this week, but only for a couple months. Because of course we’ll be rested and ready in the middle of a contagion and a presidential campaign for a debate over Sen. Paul’s proposal to make it harder to wiretap and prosecute Americans who spy for foreign governments. 

Maybe some aiming should have come before naming and shaming? The US has dropped the Mueller team’s charges against a sponsor of Russian electoral interference, Matthew tells us.

There’s another major leak about government skullduggery in cyberspace, David tells us, and WikiLeaks is, uh, nowhere to be seen. That’s because the skulldugging government in question is Vladimir Putin’s, and WikiLeaks is looking more and more like it is in cahoots with Putin. So it falls to a group called Digital Revolution to publish internal FSB documents showing Russia’s determination to acquire a huge DDOS network, maybe enough to take whole nations offline. 

 

Alan Cohn makes a guest appearance to discuss the role that DHS’s CISA is playing in the COVID-19 crisis. And it has nothing to do with cybersecurity. Instead, CISA is ensuring the security of critical infrastructure around the country by identifying facilities that need to keep operating, notwithstanding state lockdown orders. We talk about the federalism crisis that could come from the proliferation of critical infrastructure designations, but neither of us expects it soon. 

 

Here’s a surprise: Russia is deploying coronavirus disinformation, claiming that it is a US bioweapon. Uncharacteristically, I find myself praising the European Union for flagging the campaign.

Nick talks about the ambiguity of the cyberattack on Norsk Hydro, and I raise the risk that companies may stop releasing attribution information pointing to nation states because doing so may undercut their insurance claims. 

Finally, we wrap up the story of ex-Uber autonomous driving executive Anthony Levandowski, who has pled guilty to trade-secret theft and is likely headed to prison for a year or three. 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-307.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:36pm EDT

If your podcast feed has suddenly become a steady diet of more or less the same COVID-19 stories, here’s a chance to listen to cyber experts talk about what they know about – cyberlaw. Our interview is with Elsa Kania, adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security and one of the most prolific researchers of China, technology, and national security. We talk about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the artificial intelligence ecosystems in the two countries.

In the news, Maury Shenk and Mark MacCarthy describe the growing field of censorship-as-a-service and the competition between US and Chinese vendors. 

Elsa and I unpack the report of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Bottom line: The report is ambitious but constrained by political reality. And the most striking political reality is that there hasn’t been a better time in 25 years to propose cybersecurity regulation and liability for the tech sector. Seizing the Zeitgeist, the report offers at least a dozen such proposals.

Nick Weaver explains the joys of trojanizing the trojanizers, and we debate whether that is fourth-party or fifth-party intelligence collection.

In a shameful dereliction, Congress has let important FISA authorities lapse, but perhaps only for a day or two (depending on the president’s temperature when the reauthorization bill reaches his desk). The bill isn’t good for our security, but it mostly consists of new ornaments hung on the existing FISA Christmas tree. 

Mark covers a Swedish ruling that deserves to be forgotten a lot more than the crimes and embarrassments protected by the “right to be forgotten.” This one fines Google for failing to cover up Sweden’s censorship with sufficient zeal.

Nick explains how Microsoft finds itself taking down an international botnet instead of leaving the job to the world’s governments.

Maury reports that a federal trial is exposing the seamy ties between the FSB and criminal Russian hackers. Now we know why Russia fought extradition of the singing hacker to the U.S.

Elsa helps me through recent claims that US chipmakers face long-term damage from the U.S.-China trade fight. That much is obvious to all; less obvious is what the U.S. can do to avoid it.

Nick and I talk about Facebook’s suit against NSO Group. I claim that NSO won this round in court but lost in the media, which has finally found a company it hates more than Facebook. Nick thinks Facebook is quite happy to swap a default judgment for a chance at discovery.

In other quick hits, the Department of Defense is wisely seeking a quick do-over in the cloud computing litigation involving Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. House and Senate committees have now okayed a bill to give the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency much-needed and uncontroversial subpoena authority to identify at-risk Internet users. Rebooting my "Privacy Kills" series, I break the injunction against COVID-19 news to point out that dumb privacy laws likely delayed for weeks discovery of how widespread COVID-19 was in Seattle. And Joshua Schulte’s trial ends in a hung jury; I want to know where the post-trial jury interview stories are.

Download the 306th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-306.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:08pm EDT

The NSA’s use of call detail records to spot cross-border terror plots has a long history. It began life in deepest secrecy, became public (and controversial) after Edward Snowden’s leaks and was then reformed in the USA Freedom Act. Now it’s up for renewal, and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, or PCLOB, has weighed in with a deep report on how the program has functioned – and why NSA has suspended it. In this episode, I interview Travis LeBlanc, a PCLOB Member, about the report and the program. Travis is a highly effective advocate, bringing me around on several issues, including whether the program should be continued and even whether the authority to revive it would be useful. It’s a superb guide to a program whose renewal is currently being debated (against a March 15 deadline!) in Congress.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-305.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:31pm EDT

Our interview in this episode is with Glenn Gerstell, freed at last from some of the constraints that come with government service. We cover the Snowden leaks, how private and public legal work differs (hint: it’s the turf battles), Cyber Command, Russian election interference, reauthorization of FISA, and the daunting challenges the US (and its Intelligence Community) will face as China’s economy begins to reinforce its global security ambitions. 

In the news, Nate Jones and Nick Weaver talk through the new legal and technical ground broken by the United States in identifying two Chinese nationals and the $100 million in cryptocurrency they laundered for North Korean hackers.

Paul Rosenzweig lays out the challenge posed for the Supreme Court’s Carpenter decision by LocateX, which provides detailed location data commercially. This is exactly the quagmire I expected the Court to find itself in when it abandoned the third-party doctrine on a one-off basis. Nick points out that the data is only pseudonymized and tries with mixed success to teach me to say “de-pseudonymized.” 

Nate and I conclude that facial recognition has achieved a new level of infamy. Kashmir Hill at the New York Times adds a new drop of poison in a story that could just as well have repeated “I hate Clearview AI” 50 times for all it told us about the company. And Anna Merlan of Vice published a story about Clearview’s practices.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-304.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm EDT

This is a bonus episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast – a freestanding interview of Noah Phillips, a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. The topic of the interview is whether privacy and antitrust analysis should be merged, especially in the context of Silicon Valley and its social media platforms. Commissioner Phillips, who has devoted considerable attention to the privacy side of the FTC’s jurisdiction, recently delivered a speech on the topic and telegraphed his doubts in the title: “Should We Block This Merger? Some Thoughts on Converging Antitrust and Privacy.” Subject to the usual Cyberlaw Podcast injunction that he speaks only for himself and not his institution or relatives, Commissioner Phillips lays out the very real connections between personal data and industry dominance as well as the complexities that come from trying to use antitrust to solve privacy problems. Among the complexities: the key to more competition among social media giants could well be more sharing between companies of the personal data that fuels their network effects, and corporate sharing of personal data is what privacy advocates have spent a decade crusading against. It’s a wide-ranging interview, touching on, among other things, whether antitrust can be used to solve Silicon Valley’s censorship problem (he’s skeptical) and what he thinks of suggestions in Europe that perhaps the Schrems problem can be solved by declaring that post-CCPA California meets EU data privacy standards. Commissioner Phillips is bemused; I conclude that this is just Europe seeking revenge for President Trump’s Brexit support by promoting “Calexit.”

Download the 303rd Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-303.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58am EDT

This episode features a lively (and—fair warning—long) interview with Daphne Keller, Director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center. We explore themes from her recent paper on regulation of online speech. It turns out that more or less everyone has an ability to restrict users’ speech online, and pretty much no one has both authority and an interest in fostering free-speech values. Conservatives may be discriminated against, but so are Black Lives Matter activists. I serve up one solution to biased moderation after another, and Daphne methodically shoots them down. Transparency? None of the companies is willing, and the government may have a constitutional problem forcing them to disclose how they make their moderation decisions. Competition law? A long haul, and besides, most users like a moderated Internet experience. Regulation? Only if we take the First Amendment back to the heyday of broadcast regulation. As a particularly egregious example of foreign governments and platforms ganging up to censor Americans, we touch on the Europe Court of Justice’s insufferable decision encouraging the export of European defamation law to the U.S.—with an extra margin of censorship to keep the platform from any risk of liability. I offer to risk my Facebook account to see if that’s already happening.

In the news, the FISA follies take center stage, as the March 15 deadline for reauthorizing important counterterrorism authorities draws near. No one has a good solution. Matthew Heiman explains that another kick-the-can scenario remains a live option. And Nick Weaver summarizes the problems that the PCLOB found with the FISA call detail record program. My take: The program failed because it was imposed on NSA by libertarian ideologues who had no idea how it would work in practice and who now want to blame NSA for their own shortsightedness.

Another week, another couple of artificial intelligence ethics codes: The two most recent ones come from DOD and … the Pope? Mark MacCarthy sees a lot to like. I offer my quick and dirty CTRL-F “bias” test for whether the codes are serious or flaky, and both fail.

In China news, Matthew covers China’s ever-spreading censorship regime—now reaching Twitter users whose accounts are blocked by the Great Firewall. We also ask whether and how much the U.S. “name and shame” campaign has actually reduced Chinese cyberespionage. And whether China is stealing tech from universities for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks—that’s where the IP is.

Nick recounts with undisguised glee the latest tribulations suffered by Clearview and its facial recognition system: Its app has been banned from Android and Apple, and both its customers and its data collection methods have been doxed.

Mark notes the success of threats to boycott Pakistan on the part of Facebook, Google and Twitter. I wonder if that will simply incentivize Pakistan to drive its social media ecosystem toward the Chinese giants. Nick gives drug dealers a lesson in how not to store the codes for €53.6 million in Bitcoin; or is he offering a lesson in what to say to the police if you want that €53.6 million waiting for you when you get out of prison?

Finally, in a few quick hits, we cover new developments in past stories: It turns out, to the surprise of no one, that removing a GPS tracking device from your car isn’t theft. West Virginia has apparently recovered from a fit of insanity and now does not plan to allow voting by insecure app. And the FCC is taking it slow in its investigation of mobile carriers for selling customer location data; now we know who’ll be charged (pretty much everyone) and how much it will cost them ($200 million), but we still don’t know the theory or whether the whole inquiry is going to kill off legitimate uses of location data.

 

Download the 302nd Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-302.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:02pm EDT

We interview Ben Buchanan about his new book, The Hacker and the State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics. This is Ben’s second book and second interview on the podcast about international conflict and cyber weapons. It’s safe to say that America’s strategic posture hasn’t improved since his first appearance. We face more adversaries with more tools and a considerably greater appetite for cyber adventurism. Ben recaps some of the stories that were undercovered in the US press when they occurred. The second large attack on Ukraine’s grid, for example, was little noticed during the US election of 2016, but it appears more ominous after a recent analysis of the tools used, and perhaps most importantly, those available to the GRU but not used. 

In the news, Nick Weaver, Gus Hurwitz, and I take a quick pass at the Internet content regulation problem and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. I’ve written that Section 230 needs to be reconsidered, and I predict that the Justice Department, which held a workshop on Section 230 last week, will propose reforms. Gus and I offer two different takes on Facebook’s recent white paper about content moderation. Gus is more a fan of Twitter’s approach. And Nick reminds us that there are some communities on the Internet whose content causes real harm, including to innocent children.

The debate in the US is taking a distinctly European turn, I suggest, which makes Europe’s determination to regulate its way to digital innovation a little less implausible than usual. Maury Shenk outlines the very tentative (and almost certainly out of date before it’s launched) plan for building a European data lake to foster a European AI and digital economy.

Speaking of AI regulation, Elon Musk hasn’t given up on his concerns about the technology’s risks. But the real action in media circles is attacking fairly simple machine learning tools as used by law enforcement and the justice system. I think the attack is wrongheaded and will either result in abandoning tools that can discipline true outliers. Nick thinks the institutionalization of bias is bad enough that giving up such tools may be the better course.

In quick hits, Nick explains how Google’s effort to stamp out ad click fraud can generate a secondary form of criminal extortion. Maury explains the latest flap over Australia’s encryption law; the tl;dr is that nothing is likely to change soon. Gus makes a down payment on an emerging issue: Whether ISPs can defeat Internet privacy laws that affect them by pleading their First Amendment rights. Nick calls BS on the simplest forms of “anonymization” for credit card data now being sold. I highlight a ransomware attack on a US natural gas operator that actually affected operations and is thus a forerunner of future attacks. Nick reminds us that Julian Assange is in court to stop a US extradition bid. And Europe’s data protection advisor is questioning Google’s acquisition of Fitbit.

Download the 301st Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-301.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:28pm EDT

In breaking news from 1995, the Washington Post takes advantage of a leaked CIA history paper to retell the remarkable tale of Crypto AG, a purveyor of encryption products to dozens of governments – and allegedly a wholly controlled subsidiary of US and German intelligence. Nick Weaver, Paul Rosenzweig, and I are astonished at the derring-do and unapologetic enthusiasm for intelligence collection. I mean, really: The Pope?

This week’s interview is with Jonathan Reiber, a writer and strategist in Oakland, California, and former Chief Strategy Officer for Cyber Policy and Speechwriter at the Department of Defense, currently senior advisor at Technology for Global Security and visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. His recent report offers a candid view of strained relations between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. The interview explores the reasons for that strain, the importance of bridging the gap and how that can best be done.

Nick reports that four PLA members have been indicted over the Equifax breach. He speculates that the US government is sending a message by disclosing a photo of one soldier that appears to have been taken by his own webcam. Paul and I note that China’s motivation for the hack was very likely the assembly of records on Americans not dissimilar to the records we know the Chinese keep on Uighurs – which are extraordinarily detailed and surprisingly artisanal

The arrest of a Bitcoin mixer allows Nick to explain how Bitcoin mixing services work and why they’re illegal.

Paul lays out the potentially serious impact of Amazon’s lawsuit to stop a $10 billion Microsoft-DOD cloud contract. We note that Amazon wants to take testimony from President Trump. Thanks to his Twitter habit, we conclude, that’s not out of the question.

I preview my remarks at a February 19 Justice Department workshops on Section 230. I will reprise my article in Lawfare and the encryption debate with Nick Weaver that inspired it. And I hope to dig as well into the question whether Section 230 provides too much protection for Silicon Valley’s censors. Speaking of which, Jeff Bezos’s company has joined the censors but won’t tell us which books it’s suppressing.

Nick and I give a favorable review to CISA’s new #Protect2020 election strategy. We search for deeper meaning in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority’s (IANA’s) failure to complete its Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) root key signing ceremony because of… a physical safe. And we all take a moment to mock the latest vote-by-phone snake-oil app seller, Voatz.

Download the 300th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-300.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:48am EDT

The next trade war will be over transatlantic data flows, and it will make the fight with China look like a picnic. That’s the subject of this episode’s interview. The European Court of Justice is poised to go nuclear – to cut off US companies’ access to European customer data unless the US lets European courts and data protection agencies refashion its intelligence capabilities according to standards no European government has ever been required to meet. Maury Shenk and I interview Peter Swire on the Schrems cases that look nearly certain to provoke a transatlantic trade and intelligence crisis. Actually, Maury interviews Peter, and I throw bombs into the conversation. But if ever there were a cyberlaw topic that deserves more bomb-throwing, this is it.

In the News Roundup, David Kris tells us that the trial of alleged Vault7 leaker Joshua Schulte is under way. And the star of the first day is our very own podcast regular, Paul Rosenzweig

If you’re wondering whether more cybersecurity regulation is what the country needs, you should be paying attention to the Pentagon, which has embraced cybersecurity regulation for its contractors. Matthew Heiman reports that DOD isn’t finding the path easy. DOD has released its final cybersecurity plan for contractors, but the audit process needed to enforce it remains a mystery.

That’s SNAKE spelled backwards: David tells us about a new strain of ransomware; ominously, it is targeting industrial control systems. I manage to find a very modest silver lining.

Nate Jones sums up the cybersecurity lessons from the voting debacle in Iowa

Nate also reports on the FCC’s latest half-step toward suing one or more telcos for selling phone-location data.

Matthew covers the Maze ransomware that has ravaged law firms in recent weeks. He argues that it’s only a matter of time before such attacks become dog-bites-man stories.

Matthew also notes that Google and Facebook have apparently dropped plans to terminate their transpacific cable in Hong Kong. US national security concerns seem to have driven the decision. Looks like the Great Decoupling could be spurring a very real physical decoupling.

Nate makes the best of the 2020 version of a Worthwhile Canadian Initiative: The Senate Intel Committee’s third volume of its Russian electoral interference report. It’s sober and responsible and bipartisan – and disappeared from the news cycle overnight.

And to bring you up to speed on past stories: 

  • A Brazilian judge has declined to accept charges against Glenn Greenwald, “for now.” 
  • The poster child for the facial recognition moral panic can’t catch a break: Clearview AI has been hit with cease-and-desist from Google and Facebook.
  • Tag-teaming with Bill Barr, child-welfare activists are attacking Facebook over its encryption plans and what that means for exploited kids. 
  • One of the first CCPA lawsuits has been filed, against Salesforce.
  • And This Week in Silicon Valley content moderation:
    • Letterboxd banned a black libertarian film critic’s reviews.
    • James O’Keefe’s Twitter account was suspended after he named a Bernie Sanders staffer who spoke fondly of gulags and electoral violence.
    • And Twitter banned the widely popular Zero Hedge account after it named a Chinese researcher who it thought might have a role in coronavirus.

Download the 299th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-299.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am EDT

Nick Weaver and I debate Sens. Graham and Blumenthal’s EARN IT Act, a proposal to require that social media firms follow best practices on preventing child abuse. If they don’t, they won’t get full Section 230 immunity from liability for recklessly allowing the abuse. Nick thinks the idea is ill-conceived and doomed to fail. I think there’s a core of sense to the proposal, which simply asks that Silicon Valley firms who are reckless about child abuse on their networks pay for the social costs they’re imposing. Since the bill gives the attorney general authority to modify the best practices submitted by a commission of industry, academic, and civic representatives, critics are sure that the final product will reduce corporate incentives to offer end-to-end encryption. 

But before we get to that debate, Gus Hurwitz and I unpack the law and tactics behind Facebook’s decision to pay $550 million to settle a facial recognition class action. And Klon Kitchen and Nick ponder the shocking corruption and coverup alleged in the case of a Harvard chemistry chairman being prosecuted for hiding the large sums he was getting from the Chinese government to boost its research into nanomaterials. 

Klon gives us a feel for just how hard it can be to enforce Iranian sanctions, and the creativity that went into one app developer’s evasion scheme. 

Gus and Nick offer real hope that robocalling will start to get harder, and soon: DOJ has requested restraining orders to stop telephone companies from facilitating fraudulent robocalls; the FTC has put 19 VoIP providers on notice for facilitating robocalls; and SHAKEN/STIR is slowly making it harder to spoof a phone number.

Gus asks a question that had never occurred to me, and certainly not to millions of homeowners who may have committed inadvertent felonies by installing Ring doorbell cameras. It turns out that Ring recordings may be illegal intercepts in states with all-party consent laws. At least that’s what one enterprising New Hampshire defense lawyer is arguing.

First they cock a snook at Brussels, and now this: The UK government is on a roll. It’s proposing an IoT security law that Nick endorses with enthusiasm.

Maryland, not so much: Klon critiques a proposed state law that would make ransomware illegal – and maybe ransomware research, too.

In dog-bites-man news, the United Nations has suffered a breach – probably by a semi-competent government. Which doesn’t narrow things down much, since as Nick observes, everyone but the Germans has probably pwned the UN. And the Germans are just being polite.

A lot of old stories have come back for one more turn on stage: The Russian hacker that the Russian government was afraid would sing if extradited to the US has pleaded guilty here and is probably singing already. Avast has killed Jumpshot, its much-criticized data collection operation. The Bezosphone Saga continues, as Sen. Chris Murphy calls on the DNI and FBI to investigate the hacking allegations, and Bezos’s girlfriend’s brother is suing for defamation. Charges against the Iowa courthouse penetration testers have finally been dropped. LabMD’s Mike Daugherty should probably hang up his cleats. He won a great victory over the FTC, but his racketeering suit against Tiversa and lawyers is officially time-barred. Finally, it turns out that the FBI has been investigating NSO Group since 2017, though without bringing charges, so far. 

Download the 298th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-298.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:59am EDT

This episode features an interview on the Bezos phone flap with David Kaye and Alex Stamos. David is a UN Special Rapporteur and clinical professor of law at UC Irvine who first drew attention to an FTI Consulting report concluding that the Saudis did hack Bezos’ phone. Alex is director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and was the CSO at Facebook; he thinks the technical case against the Saudis needs work, and he calls for a supplemental forensic review of the phone. 

In the news, Nate Jones unpacks the US-China “phase one” trade deal and what it means for the tech divide.

Nick Weaver and I agree that the King County (Seattle) Conservation District’s notion of saving postage by having everyone vote by phone is nuts. Nick in particular reacts as you’d expect him to. 

Nate talks about the profound hit the credibility of the FISA process has taken as a result of the Justice Department admitting that two of four Carter Page warrants were invalid. Among other things, it opens FISA to a kitchen sink full of proposals for handcuffing national security wiretaps. Like this one from Sen. Ron Wyden and Sen. Steve Daines.

Brazil has charged Glenn Greenwald with “cybercrimes” on evidence that would be thin at best in the US, Nate argues. Nick agrees and is only sad that the Bolsonaro government has put him in the position of defending Greenwald.

Google is redesigning its search results again, blurring even further the line between ads and organic results. Living up to its new motto (“Don’t be caught being evil”), Google announces that it’s just testing its design, and everyone should chill. Nick and I are skeptical that A/B testing will tell Google anything other than which redesign fools consumers most effectively and thus makes more protection money for Google.

And speaking of protection money, this episode was not brought to you by Avast, the company that probably would have paid the most not to be mentioned on the Cyberlaw Podcast this week. Because they’ve been caught getting largely uninformed consent to the monitoring of their customers’ Web activities. 

Download the 297th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-297.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:01pm EDT

This week’s episode includes an interview with Bruce Schneier about his recent op-ed on privacy. Bruce and I are both dubious about the current media trope that facial recognition technology was spawned by the Antichrist. He notes that what we are really worried about is a lot bigger than facial recognition and offers ways in which the law could address our deeper worry. I’m less optimistic about our ability to write or enforce laws designed to restrict use of information that gets cheaper to collect, to correlate, and to store every year. It’s a good, civilized exchange.

The News Roundup is a little truncated due to a technical failure. (It was a glitch in Zencastr for those of you keeping score, and I definitely am). As a result, we lost Nick Weaver’s audio for about half the program, including a hammer and tongs debate over Apple’s fight with the FBI. (But never fear, opportunities for that fight come by about as often as the Red Line comes to Dupont Circle.)

That said, it’s still a feisty episode. It begins with Michael Vatis teeing off on the California Consumer Privacy Act, the worst-drafted law he’s worked with in over 30 years of practice—and not much better on policy grounds.

We then return to Illinois’s recent law regulating AI hiring interviews systems like HireVue, and sparks fly again as Mark MacCarthy and I mix it up over allegations of AI “bias.” (I’m a skeptic, to put it mildly.)

Matthew Heiman covers the surprisingly thin claim that the GRU has phished its way into Burisma Holdings. And Nick comments on (yet another!) Italian surveillance tech firm getting into trouble by misusing its capabilities.

Not-so-Big Tech has begun asking Congress for antitrust help against Big Tech. Mark is skeptical; I’m a little less so.

Matthew and I compliment frequent contributor David Kris on his speed in delivering an amicus report on the FBI’s Horowitz reforms between one episode and the next – and before his Congressional critics can finish a letter questioning his appointment. One lingering, and possibly salutary, effect of the kerfuffle is that questions are being directed at the FISA Court itself, asking why it didn’t do a better job of policing the Carter Page excesses.

Mark reports on an unusual effort by Europe’s chief privacy officer to exempt academic researchers from strict compliance with data protections laws.

In quick hits, Matthew notes that Erdogan has bowed to the Turkish Supreme Court and has reinstated access to Wikipedia. He also reports on the Department of the Interior permanently grounding its drone fleet over spying concerns. Nick chuckles over China’s APT 40 getting doxed, and we both give credit to NSA’s Anne Neuberger for disclosing and enabling the patch by Microsoft of a major vulnerability in the Crypt32 library. And I note the likelihood that Clearview will be sued for violating terms of service to obtain the facial recognition data it uses to provide identification services to law enforcement.

 

Download the 296th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-296.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:48pm EDT

There’s a fine line between legislation addressing deepfakes and legislation that is itself a deep fake. Nate Jones reports on the only federal legislation addressing the problem so far. I claim that it is well short of a serious regulatory effort—and pretty close to a fake law.

In contrast, India seems serious about imposing liability on companies whose unbreakable end-to-end crypto causes harm, at least to judge from the howls of the usual defenders of such crypto. David Kris explains how the law will work. I ask why Silicon Valley gets to impose the externalities of encryption-facilitated crime on society without consequence when we’d never allow tech companies to say that society should pick up the tab for their pollution because their products are so cool. In related news, the FBI may be turning the Pensacola military terrorism attack into a slow-motion replay of the San Bernardino fight with Apple, this time with more top cover.

Poor Nate seems to draw all the fake legislation in this episode. He explains a 2020 appropriations rider requiring the State Department to report on how it issues export licenses for cyber espionage capabilities; this is a follow-up to investigative reporting on the way such capabilities in the UAE ended up being used against human rights activists. As we agree, it’s an interesting and likely unsolvable policy problem, so the legislation opts for the most meaningless of remedies, requiring the Directorate of Defense Trade Control to report “on cybertools and capabilities licensing, including licensing screening and approval procedures as well as compliance and enforcement mechanisms” within 90 days.

Nate also gets to cover some decidedly un-fake requirements in the 2019 NDAA, limiting how defense contractors can use Chinese technology. The other shoe is about to drop, and if the first one was a baby shoe, the second is a Clydesdale’s horseshoe.

It’s hard to call it fake, but the latest export control rule restricting sales of AI could hardly be narrower. Maury Shenk and I speculate that this is because a long-term turf war has broken out again in export control policy circles. Maury’s money is on the business side of that fight, and the narrowness of the AI rule gives weight to his views.

And here’s some Christmas cheer for DOJ and national security officials: A federal district court presented Edward Snowden with a lump of coal—the only royalties it thought he deserved from a book that violated his nondisclosure agreement. Nate thinks it’s time for me to buy one, but I’m waiting for appellate confirmation.

Less festive news comes from the European Court of Justice’s advocate general opinion in Schrems II, a case that could greatly complicate EU-US data transfers by purporting to put Europeans in charge of how the US defends itself from terrorism. Maury explains; I complain.

David unpacks with clarity a complex Second Circuit decision on the constitutionality of FISA 702 collection. On the whole, Judge Lynch did a creditable job with a messy and unprecedented set of claims, though I question the wisdom of erecting a baroque mansion of judge-made procedures on a slippery foundation like the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that searches be “reasonable.”

And in short hits, Maury tells us that Italy has imposed a French-style revenue tax on Internet companies, and Russia claims that it has successfully tested the ability to disconnect from the Internet. Now if we could only get them to stay that way. Illinois has a new, mostly fake law imposing modest regulations on the use of AI in video job interviews. The TRACED Act rises above fakeness in attacking robocalls but just barely. And the FAA released an NPRM calling for a pretty serious requirement for remote ID of drones.

And to put everyone back in the Christmas spirit, LabMD won nearly a million dollars in fees from the Federal Trade Commission for the FTC’s bullheaded pursuit of the company despite the many flaws in its case. The master’s opinion makes clear just how badly the FTC erred in hounding LabMD.

 

Download the 295th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-295.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:19pm EDT

For this special edition of the Cyberlaw Podcast, we’ve convened a panel of experts on intelligence and surveillance legal matters. We take a look at the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s use of FISA applications – and the many errors in those applications. We also touch on FBI Director Wray’s response, as well as a public order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We wrap up with thoughts on how to resolve some of the issues identified by the IG’s report and suggestions for improving the FISA process.

Joining me on the panel:

  • Bob Litt, former general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
  • David Kris, who wrote the book on FISA and previously headed the DOJ’s National Security Division, which is responsible for FISA warrants.
  • Bobby Chesney of the University of Texas School of Law, as well as a founder of Lawfare and co-host of the National Security Law Podcast.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is going on hiatus for the holidays. We’ll be back in January with more insights into the latest events in technology, security, privacy, and government.

Download the 294th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-294.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:40am EDT

This week Maury Shenk guest hosts the podcast.

Even with a "phase one" trade deal with China apparently agreed upon, there's, of course, plenty still at stake between China and the US in the tech space. Nate Jones reports on the Chinese government order for government offices to purge foreign software and equipment within three years and the plans of Arm China to develop chips using “state-approved” cryptography. Nick Weaver and I agree that, while there are some technical challenges on this road, there's a clear Chinese agenda to lose dependency on US suppliers. 

In the Department of Hacking, the aptly-named Plundervolt allows hackers to steal data using the power supply of Intel chips. The immediate hole has been closed, but Nick thinks the hack suggests bigger problems for Intel down the road. We also discuss Apple's flirtation with the using DMCA to get Twitter to de-tweet an encryption key compromising a less-than-critical aspect of iPhone 11 security, and I report on an 11th Circuit decision on insurance coverage for losses from spear-phishing.

With Stewart Baker away, I point out that it's not just the EU that is going after Big Tech. Amazon's new-ish Ring subsidiary seems to have scored a couple of own-goals with privacy and security practices for its smart doorbells – Nick explains in detail. And I relate the Wall Street Journal report that the FTC is considering seeking an injunction of Facebook app integration, and the big 7.5% tax that Turkey will levy on digital services beginning in March.

Finishing up in the Gulf, we look at a “very big” cyberattack on Iranian banks that the Iranian government claims is state-sponsored. Nate doubts intimations that the US is involved, and we agree that political and commercial motives are difficult to disentangle in this type of attack. Across the Strait of Hormuz, we explore the involvement of former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke in helping the United Arab Emirates build its DREAD (who thought that was a good name?) counterterrorism unit and the policy implications and slippery slope of allowing US expertise to be used for such efforts.

Download the 293rd Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-293.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:24pm EDT

The apparent terror attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola spurs a debate among our panelists about whether the FISA Section 215 metadata program deserves to be killed, as Congress has increasingly signaled it intends to do. If the Pensacola attack involved multiple parties acting across US borders, still a live possibility as we talked, then it would be just about the first such attacks since 9/11 – and exactly the kind of attack the metadata program was designed to identify in advance. 

Nick Weaver tells us that China has resurrected the Great Cannon to attack a popular Hong Kong forum for protesters. I ask why Google hasn’t started issuing warnings to Web browsers who cross the Great Firewall into China without enabling HTTPS to foil the Great Cannon. Meanwhile, Microsoft is working hard to make GitHub, an early Great Cannon victim, an essential part of China’s IT infrastructure. GitHub was attacked because it hosted some content that China hated, including the New York Times, and we verify in real-time that, despite the lure of the Chinese market, Microsoft has not told GitHub to dump the offending content.

In more China news, the trial lawyers are circling TikTok like a wounded wildebeest on the veldt. A California class action alleges that TikTok harvested and sent data to China, and an Illinois class action charges the company with violating COPPA by marketing to children without sufficient privacy safeguards.

Paul Rosenzweig and I dig deep into the 20-year history behind the now-abandoned proposal to conduct airport facial scans on US citizens leaving the country. We reach broad agreement that this is one of the rare privacy versus national security debates in which there’s precious little privacy or national security at stake.

Matthew Heiman provides an overview of the remarkable international food fight over taxes on digital business. USTR is threatening big tariffs on French wine to counter France’s digital tax. Spain is apparently eager to join France in the fight. And the effort to work everything out at the OECD, where the EU has a 20-1 voting advantage over the US, has predictably not worked out well from the US point of view.

Cue the white cat: The United States has actually imposed sanctions on “Evil Corp.” Nick explains that this is part of criminal charges against two highly effective Russian bank hackers – and arguably a confession of weakness on the US government’s part.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s efforts to avoid tort liability for third-party sales on its site look to be suffering a long strategic defeat in the courts. The latest example is a Sixth Circuit ruling allowing plaintiffs to pursue product tort claims against the Internet giant.

I offer a quick update and some kind words for Nancy Pelosi, who is calling for modification of the North American free trade deal to drop the provision turning Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act into international law. This is a genuinely bipartisan complaint, so perhaps she’ll prevail. 

Paul gets stuck explaining two dog-bites-man stories. The FBI says any Russian app could be a counterintelligence threat. What else could they say? And the European Commission, when asked what US regulation of encryption would mean for Europe, says more or less that it may have to move from eyebrow-lifting to throat-clearing

And Nick closes the program with advice about the new Android exploit that works (in the right circumstances) to compromise apps running on a fully patched and up-to-date Android phone

Download the 292nd Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-292.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am EDT

Algorithms are at the heart of the Big Data/machine learning/AI changes that are propelling computerized decision-making. In their book, The Ethical Algorithm, Michael Kearns and Aaron Roth, two Computer Science professors at Penn, flag some of the social and ethical choices these changes are forcing upon us. My interview with them touches on many of the hot-button issues surrounding algorithmic decision-making. Michael and Aaron may not agree with my formulation, but the conversation provides a framework for testing it – and leaves me more skeptical about “bias hacking” of algorithmic outputs.

Less controversial, but equally fun, is a dive into the ways in which Big Data and algorithms defeat old-school anonymization – and the ways in which that problem can be solved. Our guests from Philadelphia help me understand the value of differential privacy. And if you wondered why, say, much of the social science and nutrition research of the last 50 years doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, blame Big Data and algorithms that reliably generate significant correlations once in every 20 tries.

Michael and Aaron also take us deep into the unexpected social costs of algorithmic optimization. It turns out that a recommendation engine that produces exactly what we want, even when we didn’t know we wanted it, is great in the moment but maybe not so great for society. Creating markets in areas once governed by social norms can optimize individual choice but at a considerable social cost, and it turns out that algorithms can do the same – optimize individual gratification in the moment while roiling our social and political order in unpredictable ways. We would react badly to a proposal that dating choices become microeconomic transactions (otherwise known as prostitution) but we don’t feel the same way about reducing them to algorithms. Maybe we should.

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-291.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12am EDT

This Week in the Great Decoupling: The Commerce Department has rolled out proposed telecom and supply chain security rules that never once mention China. More accurately, the Department has rolled out a sketch of its preliminary thinking about proposed rules. Brian Egan and I tackle the substance and history of the proposal and conclude that the government is still fighting about the content of a policy it’s already announced. And to show that decoupling can go both ways, a U.S.-based chip-tech group is moving to Switzerland to reassure its Chinese participants. Nick Weaver and I conclude that there’s a little less here than Reuters seems to think.

Mark MacCarthy tells us that reports of the University of Chicago’s weather turning sunny and warm for hipster antitrust plaintiffs are probably overdone. Even so, Silicon Valley should be at least a little nervous that even Chicago School enforcers are taking a hard look at personal data and free services as sources of anti-competitive conduct.

Mark also highlights my favorite story of the week, as the Right to be Forgotten discredits itself in, where else, Germany. Turns out that you can kill two people and wound a third on a yacht in the Atlantic, get convicted, serve 20 years, and then demand that everybody just forget it happened. The doctrine hasn’t just jumped the shark. It’s doubled back and put a couple of bullets in the fish for good measure.

Nick explains why NSA is so worried about TLS inspection. And delivers a rant on bad cybersecurity software along the way.

It’s been a bad week for TikTok, which was caught blocking an American Muslim teen who posted about Uighurs in China and offered an explanation that was believable only because US social media companies have offered explanations that were even less credible. I suggest that all the criticism will just lead to more and sneakier ways to block disfavored content without getting caught. And Brian tells us how the flap might affect TikTok’s pending CFIUS negotiation.

Nick ladles out abuse for the bozo who thought it was a good idea to offer cryptocurrency advice on avoiding sanctions to Kim Jong Un’s cyber bank robbers. And Brian explains that the government’s prosecution of the bozo might have to tiptoe past the First Amendment.

Senate Democrats have introduced the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act, an online privacy bill with an unfortunate acronym (think fossilized dinosaur poop). Mark and I conclude that the bill is more a sign that Washington isn’t going to do privacy before 2021.

Who can resist GPS crop circle spoofing by sand pirates? Not Nick. Or me. Arrr.

I update our story on DHS’s CISA, which has now issued in draft a binding operational directive on vulnerability disclosure policies for federal agencies. It’s now taking comments on GitHub.

And in quick hits: The death of the Hippie Internet, part 734: Apple changes its map to show Crimea as Russian, but only for Russians; Facebook accepts correction notice from the Singapore government; our own Paul Rosenzweig will be an expert witness in the government’s prosecution of the Vault 7 leaker; and Apple’s bad IT cost it $467,000 for sanctions violations. I ask whether we should be blaming Scooby-Doo for the error.

Join Steptoe for a complimentary webinar on Tuesday, December 10. We’ll be talking about the impacts on retailers of the newly implemented California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. This is a fast-moving area of the law; we can keep you up to date. You can find out more and register here.

Download the 290th Episode (mp3).

 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-290.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39pm EDT

Brad Smith is President of Microsoft and author (with Carol Ann Browne) of Tools and Weapons: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age.” The book is a collection of vignettes of the tech policy battles in the last decade or so. Smith had a ringside seat for most of them, and he recounts what he learned in a compelling and good-natured way in the book—and in this episode’s interview. Starting with the Snowden disclosures and the emotional reaction of Silicon Valley, through the CLOUD Act, Brad Smith and Microsoft displayed a relatively even keel while trying to reflect the interests of its many stakeholders. In that effort, Smith makes the case for more international cooperation in regulating digital technology. Along the way, he discloses how the Cyberlaw Podcast’s own Nate Jones and Amy Hogan-Burney became “Namy,” achieving a fame and moniker inside Microsoft that only Brangelina has achieved in the wider world. Finally, he sums up Microsoft’s own journey in the last quarter century as a recognition that humility is a better long-term strategy than hubris.

Turning to the news, it looks like the surveillance renewal debate will be pushed to March 15 instead of Dec. 15. That’s thanks to impeachment, David Kris assesses. We summarize what’s up for renewal before turning to the hottest of FISA topics: The Justice Department’s inspector general report on bias in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump-Russia connection in 2016. All we’re getting at this point is self-serving leaks, but it sounds as though the report is finding real misbehavior only in the lower rungs of the Bureau. The IG finds no political bias at the top, but criminal charges against one lawyer look possible.

David sums up China’s Vulnerability Equities Process: “You can disclose the vulns when MSS is done using them.”

Nick Weaver, meanwhile, tells us that China’s dependence on U.S.-origin AI frameworks is more a matter of bragging rights rather than real disadvantage—unless you think that being unable to deny access to GitHub is a real disadvantage. And if you’re Xi Jinping, you might.

Nate Jones, already immortalized as the quiet half of Namy, reveals that Iran’s APT33 is targeting industrial control systems—and that Iran has shut down its Internet for several days in the face of civil unrest. I suggest that we keep track of the regime-essential links that stay up—so we can take them down if Iran decides to use its new upstream access to industrial control systems.

Nate and I ask why a majority of the UN General Assembly bought into a Russian proposal for a “cybercrime” resolution. Hint: Many of the governments that support it couldn’t survive a democratic election and a free press.

Speaking of Russians, Nick flags a Brian Krebs explainer on why the Russians really, really didn’t want their accused cybercriminal extradited from Israel to the US.

David and I gape in wonder at the chutzpah of the Indiana police force that accused a suspected drug dealer of theft for removing a police GPS tracker from his car—and then used that theft to justify a search of his home.

And in quick hits, Nick covers the new Russian law that prohibits sale of devices without preinstalled “alternative” software. And Nick and I debate the value and legality of Uber’s plan to introduce audio recordings during rides.

 

Join Steptoe for a complimentary webinar on Tuesday, Dec. 10. We’ll be talking about the impacts on retailers of the newly implemented California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. This is a fast-moving area of the law; we can keep you up to date. You can find out more and register here.

 

Download the 289th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunesGoogle PlaySpotifyPocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-289.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:56am EDT

This Week in Mistrusting Google: Klon Kitchen points to a Wall Street Journal story about all the ways Google tweaks its search engine to yield results that look machine-made but aren’t. He and I agree that most of these tweaks have understandable justifications – but you have to trust Google not to misuse them. And increasingly no one does. The same goes for Google’s foray into amassing and organizing health data on millions of Americans. It’s a nothingburger with mayo, unless you mistrust Google. Since mistrusting Google is a growth industry, it’s getting a lot of attention, including from HHS investigators. Matthew Heiman explains, and when he’s done, my money is on Google surviving that investigation comfortably. The capital of mistrusting Google is Brussels, and not surprisingly, Maury Shenk tells us that the EU has forced Google to modify its advertising protocols to exclude data on health-related sites visited by its customers.

A Massachusetts federal district court says suspicionless device searches at borders are not okay. Matthew and I dig into the details. Bottom line: Requiring reasonable suspicion for electronics searches isn’t a tough standard, but reason to believe the phone contains contraband is likely to stop a lot of searches. But that’s only good news for US citizens. Foreign travelers’ phones can also be searched if there’s reason to believe they contain evidence relevant to whether they should be admitted to the country, and reasonable suspicion that such evidence will be found is not hard to come by.

The US Supreme Court will be deciding whether APIs can be copyrighted (or whether copying them is fair use). I put my Supreme Court maven cred on the line, predicting that the Court is going to reverse the federal circuit and reject Oracle’s claim that it can extract hefty rent payments from Google for Android’s use of Oracle APIs.

An injunction against disseminating violent and inciting speech is causing angst in Hong Kong. Maury explains why.

Klon unpacks the story of the Chinese hackers who’ve been spying on the US National Association of Manufacturers

Maury and I throw shade at the federal court’s claim that it’s arbitrary and capricious for the Trump Administration to conclude that it couldn’t really administer an export control ban on the release of 3D gun plans. 

In a lightning round, no one should be surprised that Microsoft is making CCPA the law of the land. Nor that Amazon sells a lot of stuff directly from China. Or, frankly, that the hullabaloo over “sophisticated” DDoS attacks on British political parties is just campaign grist.

Download the 288th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-288.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:17pm EDT

The Foreign Agent Registration Act is having a moment – in fact its best year since 1939, as the Justice Department charges three people with spying on Twitter users for Saudi Arabia. Since they were clearly acting like spies but not stealing government secrets or company intellectual property, FARA seems to be the only law that they could be charged with violating. Nate Jones and I debate whether the Justice Department can make the charges stick.

Nick Weaver goes off on NSO Group for its failure to supervise the way its customers intrude on cell phone contents. I’m less sure that NSO deserves its bad rap, and I wonder whether WhatsApp should have compromised what looks like 1100 legitimate law enforcement investigations because it questions 100 other uses of NSO malware.

Speaking of Facebook’s judgment, Paul Rosenzweig and I turn out to be surprisingly sympathetic to the company’s stand on political ads and whether “Mama Facebook” should decide their truthfulness. Twitter, darling of the press, has gotten away with a no-political-ads stance that is at least as problematical.

Nate, Paul, and I go pretty far down the rabbit hole arguing whether search warrants should give police access to DNA databases.

The National Security Commission on Artificial intelligence has published its interim report, and Nick, Nate, and I can’t really quarrel with its contents, except to complain that it doesn’t break a lot of new ground.

And maybe all this AI is still a little overrated. Remember that AI fake news text generator that OpenAI claimed was “too dangerous to release”? Well it’s been released, and it turns out to be bone stupid. We test it live, and the results would have to have been a lot better to scratch their way up to “underwhelming.”

Nick tells us why nobody who ever worked with the US government should even change planes in Russia these days.

And in a lightning round, Paul and I ask when blowing off Congress became a thing anybody could do. Nick dumps on both sides in the Great DOH debate. Ted Cruz has called out USTR for sticking Section 230 into trade deals.

And This Week in Pew! Pew! Pew! It really is the 21st Century now that we’re using lasers to attack computers. Nick explains how to order fifty copies of Skating on Stilts using your neighbor’s Amazon account and a laser.

Download the 287th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-287.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:06pm EDT

This episode is a wide-ranging interview with Andy Greenberg, author of Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers. The book contains plenty of original reporting, served up with journalistic flair. It digs deep into some of the most startling and destructive cyberattacks of recent years, from two dangerous attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, to the multibillion-dollar NotPetya, and then to a sophisticated but largely failed effort to bring down the Seoul Olympics and pin the blame on North Korea. Apart from sophisticated coding and irresponsibly indiscriminate targeting, all these episodes have one thing in common. They are all the work of Russia's GRU.

Andy persuasively sets out the attribution and then asks what kind of corporate culture supports such adventurism – and whether there is a strategic vision behind the GRU’s attacks. The interview convinced me at least that the GRU is pursuing a strategy of muscular nihilism – "our system doesn't work, but yours too is based on fragile illusions." It's a kind of global cyber intifada, with all the dangers and all the self-defeating tactics of the original intifadas. Don't disagree until you've listened!

Download the 286th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-286.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:52pm EDT

We open the episode with David Kris’s thoughts on the two-years-late CFIUS investigation of TikTok, its Chinese owner, ByteDance, and ByteDance’s US acquisition of the lip-syncing company Musical.ly. Our best guess is that this unprecedented reach-back investigation will end in a more or less precedented mitigation agreement.

I cover the WhatsApp suit against NSO Group over the use of spyware on WhatsApp’s network. I predict that this is going to be a highwire act given the applicable precedents on whether violating terms of service also violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. I also muse on whether NSO will find ways to make this a much less comfortable lawsuit for WhatsApp to pursue.

I award the ACLU the prize for making a PR and fundraising mountain out of a molehill of a lawsuit. Matthew Heiman and I try to decide which took less effort – cutting and pasting the ACLU’s generic FOIA complaint or cutting and pasting the ACLU’s generic “Oh my God, it’s a surveillance dystopia” press release. 

I comment on a heart-warming story about a geek in Normal, Illinois, who runs the most successful ransomware-rescue site in the world – and is going broke doing it. Advice to DHS’s CISA: Why not sponsor prizes for people who post ransomware decryptors with real impact? 

Mark MacCarthy discusses the guidance provided by the Defense Innovation Board on building ethical AI. I complain that political correctness seems to outweigh things like, you know, winning wars.

Matthew tells us that Israel is creating its own CFIUS-like panel, and we note the longstanding tension between the US and Israel over Chinese access to Israeli technology.

David notes more decoupling: The Interior Department has grounded its entire drone fleet, citing the risk from Chinese manufacturers.

Mark and I find common ground in thinking the Facebook got the political ad censorship question more right than wrong. Twitter rises to the challenge, naturally. 

Matthew fills us in on a story suggesting that North Korea breached an Indian nuclear plant’s network. He and I also briefly note that Georgia was the victim of a massive case of cyber vandalism.

In updates of past stories, I cover Coalfire’s persuasive critique of the sheriff who arrested the company’s pentesters in an Iowa courthouse. In another even longer-running story, the latest and perhaps the last word on the LabMD-Tiversa-FTC imbroglio can be found in an excellent New Yorker story that leaves LabMD looking good, the FTC looking bad, and Tiversa looking like a candidate for criminal prosecution. Finally, David updates the story of the 2016 Uber hack that cost the company’s chief security officer his job. It’s also going to cost the hackers their freedom, as they plead guilty to CFAA violations. 

Download the 285th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-285.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:31am EDT

I talk about the photographs of Congresswoman Katie Hill and whether the rush to portray her as a victim of revenge porn raises questions about revenge porn laws themselves. Paul Rosenzweig, emboldened by twin tweets – from President Trump calling Never-Trumpers like him “human scum” and from Mark Hamill welcoming him to the Rebel Scum Alliance – takes issue with me.

In a more serious vein, Brian Egan, Paul, and I dig deep into the roots of the battle over how to keep “emerging technology” out of Chinese hands. 

Paul explains a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that cops need a warrant to access automobile data after an accident.

Brian and I talk about why DHS might issue a binding operational directive requiring federal agencies to adopt vulnerability disclosure programs.

Maury Shenk tells us to look for tougher cybersecurity rules in China starting December 1.

Paul unpacks the thinking behind a finding of bias in a widely used algorithm found in a healthcare system.

Maury tells us that “going dark is not going dark.” India’s Supreme Court is consolidating the legal fights over WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption. In Afghanistan, meanwhile, the New York Times says that WhatsApp has become a key tool for communication by the government

I note a well-written study that contradicts the media narrative that YouTube’s recommendation engine is what’s radicalizing Americans. According to the authors, the problem isn’t YouTube’s recommendations but an audience that is looking for the kinds of alternative content that conservatives (not to mention the Alt-Right and the Alt-Lite) are offering.

In shorter takes, Paul and I cover Microsoft beating AWS for an enormous Pentagon cloud contract, and Brian takes on the question of lies in political ads on Facebook. I ask whether we would be wise to follow Russia’s example and disconnect from the Internet from time to time. 

Finally, Maury and I explore the challenge that TikTok poses not just to the US government but also to the Chinese government. Short take: TikTok can get away with more pro-Hong-Kong-protest speech in the US than the NBA can. 

Download the 284th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-284.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30pm EDT

Our interview is with Alex Joel, former Chief of the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Alex is now at the American University law school’s Tech, Law, and Security Program. We share stories about the difficulties of government startups and how the ODNI carved out a role for itself in the Intelligence Community (hint: It involved good lawyering). We dive pretty deep on recent FISA court opinions and the changes they forced in FBI procedures. In the course of that discussion, I realize that every “reform” of intelligence dreamed up by Congress in the last decade has turned out to be a self-licking compliance trap, and I take back some of my praise for the DNI’s lawyering.

In the News Roundup, we’re inundated by serious new reports on cyberattacks. Dave Aitel admits that the hacking group he envies most is Turla, which was recently discovered to have totally pwned and stolen the entire attack infrastructure of an Iranian government team. Dave notes that Avast has succumbed to a second, far-reaching intrusion into its network, reminiscent of the last attack, which led to the company sending out a compromised CCleaner application: We may never know whether Avast got the intruder out, Dave suggests, but his hat is off to the company’s PR team. In still more pwnage news, Dave praises two new detailed reports from security companies: FireEye’s report on APT41’s combination of espionage and cybercrime and Crowdstrike’s report on amazingly successful Chinese efforts to steal aircraft intellectual property. And one more: Cyber Command has leaked the bare minimum of information designed to show that Iran’s strike against Saudi oil facilities did not go unpunished. Dave and I take our hats off to Iran’s PR team, which responded to the vague leak by claiming that Cyber Command “must have dreamt it.”

In other news, Gus Hurwitz breaks down a recent Ninth Circuit decision construing the Section 230 immunity for tools that filter content on the Internet. Remarkably, two judges thought that the immunity for preventing access to “objectionable” content would allow a company to cut off consumers’ access to its competitor’s products. Luckily, the two judges were a district court judge and the Ninth Circuit dissenter. But the close call shows how broadly the “objectionable” immunity sweeps. Which raises the question whether our trade agreements should broaden the immunity and turn it into international law that can’t be amended easily, or at all. That was a point of rare bipartisan agreement at a recent House hearing. But there’s no sign yet that Congress is going to reject the trade deals that do this. Gus and I also touch on the latest flaps over social media content monitoring. 

Dan Podair explains what’s good and what’s missing from the California Attorney General’s rules implementing California’s new, sweeping privacy act.

Poor Equifax: Just when they were hoping the worst had passed, the plaintiff’s bar doxxed even more embarrassing security failings. Dave offers this cold comfort: All the mistakes that were offered to show that Equifax security was bad could be found in pretty much any network in the country. More cold than comfort, Dave!

And, finally, we close with This Week in Puerile Jokes: All inspired, of course, by the UK Government’s decision to drop its plan to require ID to watch sex videos online.

Download the 283rd Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-283_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:37am EDT

Our interview is with Sultan Meghji, CEO of Neocova. We cover the large Chinese investment in quantum technology and what it means for the United States. It’s possible that Chinese physicists are even better than American physicists at extracting funding from their government. Indeed, it looks as though some quantum tech, such as the use of entangled particles to identify eavesdropping, may turn out to have dubious military value. But not all. Sultan thinks the threat of special purpose quantum computing to break encryption poses a real, near-term threat to U.S. financial institutions’ security.

In the News Roundup, we cover the new California Consumer Privacy Act regulations, which devote a surprising amount of their 24 pages to fixing problems caused by the Act’s feel-good promise that consumers can access and delete the information companies have on them. Speaking of feel-good laws that are full of liability land mines for companies, the Supreme Court has let stand a Ninth Circuit ruling that allows blind people to sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act if websites don’t accommodate their needs. Nick Weaver and I explore the risks of making law by retroactively imposing liability.

Weirdly for a populist administration that says it hates the big social platforms for restricting speech, the Trump trade negotiators are actually expanding Section 230 immunities for Silicon Valley that both left and right have begun to question. The expansion is buried in hard-to-amend and even-harder-to-repeal trade agreements. By way of explanation, I explain the Realpolitik of trade deals. As if to prove my point, the U.S. and Japan have signed a Digital Trade Agreement that has much the same provision.

Nick and I muse on the rise of Commerce Department sanctions on individual companies. In a way, such sanctions are a less harsh alternative to OFAC boycotts, but like antibiotics, they either destroy the target or teach it to develop better resistance for the future.

Does TLS stand for “Tough Luck, Sucker?” That’s the message of a new and clever form of malware, softly attributed to the Russian FSB.

Apple, having banned, then unbanned an app that locates police activity in Hong Kong, has re-banned it. Tim Cook’s explanation triggers Nick’s bovine excrement detection system. In a Final Four of Hypocritical Surrender, LeBron and the NBA give ESPN a run for its money. South Park fails to qualify.

Matthew Heiman and I discuss India’s effort to create a national facial recognition system. Naturally BuzzFeed News thinks it’s evil.

Nick and I consider DHS’s request for the power to subpoena ISPs to identify owners of compromised systems. I critique Herb Lin’s suggestion that the ISPs can solve the problem without giving data to DHS.

As Matthew notes, it was just last month that the French government gave the world a stiff-necked little lecture on respecting sovereignty in cyberspace. So why are French police helping reprogram computers in Latin America? Because it’s different when the French are doing it than when it’s done to them, I surmise.

A recent “good guy with a keyboard” story offers me one more chance to ask why someone who’s rescued hundreds from ransomware should have to worry for one minute about liability for the compromised C2 machines he re-compromised in the rescue.

Matthew and I try to simplify a complex ruling from two FISA courts. Among the takeaways: The FBI has been running a lot of searches against 702 databases (3.1 million a year!), and the FISA courts are overusing the Fourth Amendment, which in FISA minimization cases is like trying to do brain surgery with a chainsaw.

Argh! That embarrassing Bloomberg Supermicro story is back. Sort of. Wired has shown that something like this could really be done. Which, Nick points out, we already knew.

I give a shoutout to Jennifer Daskal and Peter Swire for their useful overview of the U.K.-U.S. CLOUD Act, but I wonder if mutual “no targeting of the other country’s nationals” assurances are a scalable solution.

Finally, Matthew reviews the second volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian election interference. The TL;DR? The Russians did what you think they did. Mildly surprising: After starting out just trying to hurt Hillary, by the end the Russians seem to have been trying to help Trump too.

 

Download the 282nd Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-282.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:20pm EDT

Today’s episode opens with a truly disturbing bit of neocolonial judicial lawmaking from the Court of Justice of the European Union. The CJEU ruled that an Austrian court can order Facebook to take down statements about an Austrian politician. Called an “oaf” and a “fascist,” the politician more or less proved the truth of the accusations by suing to keep that and similar statements off Facebook worldwide. Trying to find allies for my proposal to adopt blocking legislation to protect the First Amendment from foreign government interference, I argue that President Trump should support such a law. After all, if he were ever to insult a European politician on Twitter, this ruling could lead to litigation that takes his Twitter account offline. True, he could criticize the judges responsible for the judgment as “French” or “German” without upsetting CNN, but that would be cold comfort. At last, a legislative and international agenda for the Age of Trump!

Nick Weaver returns to give the FDA a better report card than I expected on its approach to cybersecurity. But we agree that the state of medical device and implant security remains parlous.

I try my hand at explaining the D.C. Circuit’s Net Neutrality ruling in Mozilla v. FCC. There are still some rounds to be played, but Net Neutrality, if not dead, may at least be pining for the fjords.

Introducing a new feature: This Week in Elizabeth Warren. She has a plan to revive the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. Nick likes the idea. I’m less enthusiastic, perhaps because I actually did some work for OTA before it disappeared.

Nick also helps unpack the flap over Google’s proposal to do DNS-over-HTTPS, and why ISPs aren’t happy about it. Bottom line: If you haven’t been paying much attention to the issue, you’ve made the right choice. Just think of how much time you saved by listening to the podcast!

Nick explains how Uzbekistan managed to give cyberattacks an aura, not of menace or invincibility, but of clownish incompetence.

David Kris explains the objections from privacy advocates and NGOs to the French government’s use of nationwide facial recognition for its ID program. I suggest that this may be the dumbest face recognition privacy “scandal” in history.

The cops shut down a Dark Web data center operating from… a NATO bunker? Nick reveals that the main reason to operate from a NATO bunker is, well, marketing.

Apparently channeling Stewart Baker, Attorney General Bill Barr is all-in on discouraging mass-market warrant-proof encryption. Nick thinks he’s picked the wrong fight. And maybe Nick’s right, since the civil-liberties shine on Apple is looking a little scuffed these days.

David tells us that NSA has launched a new defense directorate with Anne Neuberger at its helm. I promise to have her on the podcast early next year.

David talks about the California man charged with delivering classified information to China’s Ministry of State Security.

A Yahoo engineer pleads guilty to hacking emails for pornographic images. I’m surprised this doesn’t happen every month.

And in a sign that Congress can reach bipartisan agreement on bills that do more or less nothing, both the House and the Senate have adopted bills authorizing (but not funding) DHS “cyber hunt” teams to help local governments suffering from cyber ransom and other attacks.

Bringing back an old favorite, I cover the hacking of an electronic billboard to play porn.

 

Download the 281st Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-281.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:53pm EDT

In this episode I cross swords with John Samples of the Cato Institute on Silicon Valley’s efforts to disadvantage conservative speech and what to do about it. I accuse him of Panglossian libertarianism; he challenges me to identify any way in which bringing government into the dispute will make things better. I say government is already in it, citing TikTok’s People’s Republic of China-friendly “community standards” and Silicon Valley’s obeisance to European standards on hate speech and terror incitement. Disagreeing on how deep the Valley’s bias runs, we agree to put our money where our mouths are: I bet John $50 that Donald J. Trump will be suspended or banned from Twitter by the end of the year in which he leaves office.

There’s a lot of news in the Roundup. David Kris explains the background of the first CLOUD Act agreement that may be signed this year with the UK.

Nate Jones and I ask, “What is the president’s beef with CrowdStrike, anyway?” And find a certain amount of common ground on the answer.

This Week in Counterattacks in the War on Terror: David and I recount the origins and ironies of Congress’s willingness to end the NSA 215 phone surveillance program. We also take time to critique the New York Times’s wide-eyed hook-line-and-sinker ingestion of an EFF attack on the FBI’s use of National Security Letters.

Edward Snowden’s got a new book out, and the Justice Department wants to make sure he never collects his royalties. Nate explains. I’m just relieved that I will be able to read it without having to shoplift it. And it seems to be an episode for challenges, as I offer Snowden a chance to be interviewed on the podcast—anytime, anywhere, Ed!

Matthew Heiman explains the latest NotPeya travail for FedEx: A shareholder suit alleging that the company failed to disclose how much damage the malware caused to its ongoing business. 

Evan Abrams gives a hint about the contents of Treasury’s 300-page opus incorporating Congress’s overhaul of CFIUS into the CFR.

I credit David for inspiring my piece questioning how long end-to-end commercial encryption is going to last, and we note that even the New York Times seems to be questioning whether Silicon Valley’s latest enthusiasm is actually good for the world.

Matthew tells us that China may have a new tool in the trade war—or at least to keep companies toeing the party line: The government is assigning social credit scores to businesses. 

Finally, Matthew outlines France’s OG take on international law and cyber conflict. France opens up some distance between its views and those of the United States, but everyone will get a chance to talk at even greater length on the topic, as the U.N. gears up two different bodies to engage in yet another round of cyber-norm-building.

 

Download the 280th Episode (mp3). 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-280.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:44am EDT

In our 279th episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast, the Blockchain Group takes over the podcast. Host Alan Cohn is joined by Gary Goldsholle, Will Turner and Evan Abrams to discuss:

  • The SEC has issued its second token-related no-action letter to Pocketful of Quarters, Inc., giving more guidance and opening a number of issues.
  • The SEC has brought a double-headed complaint against ICOBOX, an entity that both conducted an initial coin offering (ICO) and facilitated ICOs for others.
  • The US has brought the Financial Action Task Force along on its travel rule adventure.
  • The SEC and FINRA have custody guidance.
  • FinCEN has guidance on convertible virtual currencies.
  • The SEC has brought a complaint against FantasyCoin for what amounts to sheer, brazen fraud.
  • The SEC settlement in SimplyVital Health, with Steptoe as counsel, shows the SEC’s willingness to work with companies that voluntarily remediate errors.

Download the 279th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-279_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:46pm EDT

Joel Trachtman thinks it’s a near certainty that the World Trade Organization agreements will complicate U.S. efforts to head off an Internet of Things cybersecurity meltdown, and there’s a real possibility that a U.S. cybersecurity regime could be held to violate our international trade obligations. Claire Schachter and I dig into the details of the looming disaster and how to avoid it.

In the news, Paul Rosenzweig analyzes the Ninth Circuit holding that scraping publicly available information doesn’t violate the CFAA.

The California legislature has adjourned, leaving behind a smoking ruin where Silicon Valley’s business models used to be. Mark MacCarthy elaborates: One new law would force companies like Uber and Lyft (and a boatload more) to treat workers as employees, not contractors. Another set of votes has left the California Consumer Privacy Act more or less unscathed as its 2020 effective date looms. Really, it’s beginning to look as though even California hates Silicon Valley. 

Klon Kitchen and I discuss the latest round of U.S. sanctions on North Korean hacking groups. The sanctions won’t hit anyone in North Korea, but they might affect a few of their enablers on the Internet. The real question, though, is this: Since sanctions violations are punishable even when they aren’t intentional, will U.S. companies whose money is stolen by the Lazarus Group be penalized for having engaged in a prohibited transaction with a sanctioned party? Maybe the Lazarus Group should steal a license too, just to be sure. 

Klon also lays out in chilling detail what the Russians were really trying to do to Ukraine’s grid—and the growing risk that someone is going to launch a destructive cyberattack that leads to a cycle of serious real-world violence. The drone attack on Saudi oil facilities shows how big that risk can be. 

Paul examines reports that Israel planted spy devices near the White House. He thinks it says more about the White House than about Israel.

Paul also reports on one of the unlikelier escapades of students from his alma mater: Trading 15 minutes at the keyboard for a lifetime of trouble on their permanent records. The lesson? If you try to access the president’s tax data online, you’re going to jail, prank or not.

I walk back the deepfake voice scam story, but Klon points out that it reflects a future that is coming for U.S. soon, if not today.

Proving the old adage about a fool for a lawyer, the Mar-a-Lago trespasser has been found guilty after an ineffective pro se defense.

Klon digs into the long and thoughtful op-ed by NSA’s Glenn Gerstell about the effects of the “digital revolution” on national security.

I note the recent Carnegie report trying to move the encryption debate forward. I also plug my upcoming speech in Israel on the topic. 

 

Download the 278th Episode (mp3).

 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

 

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-278.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52pm EDT

Camille Stewart talks about a little-known national security risk: China’s propensity to acquire U.S. technology through the bankruptcy courts and the many ways in which the bankruptcy system isn’t set up to combat improper tech transfers. Published by the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, Camille’s paper is available here. Camille has enjoyed great success in her young career working with the Transformative Cyber Innovation Lab at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, as a Cybersecurity Policy Fellow at New America, and as a 2019 Cyber Security Woman of the Year, among other achievements. We talk at the end of the session about life and advancement as an African American woman in cybersecurity.

Want to hear more from Camille on this topic? She’ll be speaking Friday, Sept. 13, at a lunch event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). She’ll be joined by fellow panelists Giovanna Cinelli, Jamil Jaffer and Harvey Rishikof, along with moderator Dr. Samantha Ravich. The event will be livestreamed at www.fdd.org/events. If you would like to learn more about the event, please contact Abigail Barnes at FDD. If you are a member of the press, please direct your inquiries to press@fdd.org.

In the News Roundup, Maury Shenk tells us that UK courts have so far resisted a sustained media narrative that all facial recognition tech is inherently evil. Americans seem to agree, Matthew Heiman notes, since a majority trust law enforcement to use it responsibly. Which is more than you can say for Silicon Valley, which only 36 percent of Americans trust with the technology.

Mieke Eoyang and I talk about the Department of Homeland Security’s plan to use fake identities to view publicly available social media postings and the conflict with social media sites’ terms of service. I am unsympathetic, given the need for operational security in conducting such reviews, but we agree that DHS is biting off more than it can chew, especially in languages other than English. But really, DHS, how clueless can you be when your list of social media to be scrutinized includes three-years-dead Vine but not TikTok, which Mieke notes ironically is “what all the kids are using these days.”

Maury brings us up to speed on EU plans for the tech sector, which will be familiar to Brits contemplating the EU’s plan for them. And speaking of EU hypocrisy and incoherence (we were, weren’t we?), Erin Egan of Facebook has written a paper on data portability that deserves more attention, since it’s impossible to square the EU’s snit over Cambridge Analytica with its sanctifying of the principle of “data portability.” The paper also calls out the Federal Trade Commission for slamming Facebook for Cambridge Analytica while Commissioner Noah Phillips is warning that restrictions on data transfers can be anticompetitive. I promise to invite the commissioner on the podcast again to explore that issue.

Well, that was quick: Fraudsters used AI to mimic a CEO’s voice—accent, “melody” and all—in an unusual cybercrime case. Anyone can do this now, Maury explains. I tell listeners how to tell whether my voice has been AI-napped in future episodes.

In short hits, Mieke and I mock Denmark’s appointment of an “ambassador” to Silicon Valley. Way to cut the Valley down to size, Denmark! Maury notes that FinFisher is under investigation for violating EU export control law by selling spyware. Mieke does her best to rebut my suggestion that Silicon Valley’s bias is showing in the latest actuarial stat: It turns out that 10 percent of the accounts that President Trump has retweeted have been deplatformed. Matthew and I note that China has been caught hacking several Asian telecomm companies to spy on Uighurs. Of course, if the U.S. had 5,000 citizens fighting for the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, as China claims to have, we’d probably be hacking all the same companies. State attorneys general will launch sweeping and apparently bipartisan antitrust probes into Facebook and Google this week. Good to see Silicon Valley bringing Rs and Ds together at last; who says its business model is social division? Finally, Mieke leaves us uneasy about the online security of our pensions, as hackers steal $4.2 million from one fund via compromised email.

 

Download the 277th Episode (mp3). 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

 

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-277.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:58pm EDT

In this bonus episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast, Alex Stamos of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute talks about the Institute’s recent paper on the risk of Chinese social media interference with Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election. It’s a wide-ranging discussion of everything from a century of Chinese history to the reasons why WeChat lost a social media competition in Taiwan to a Japanese company. Along the way, Alex notes that efforts to identify foreign government election interference have been seriously degraded by (what else?) privacy law, mixed with fear of commercial consequences when China is the attacker. If companies make data about foreign government and “inauthentic” users public, the risk of liability under GDPR as well as Chinese retaliation is real, and the benefits go more to the nation as a whole rather than to the companies taking the risk.

During the interview, Alex references a paper co-authored by his colleague, Jennifer Pan, regarding the “50c party.” You can find that paper here. He also mentions his recent op-ed in Lawfare, which you can find here.

Download the 276th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-276.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:28pm EDT

And we’re back with an episode that tries to pick out some of the events of August that will mean the most for technology law and policy this year. Dave Aitel opens, telling us that Cyber Command gave the world a hint of what “defending forward” looks like with an operation that is claimed to have knocked the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s tanker attacks for a long-lasting loop. 

David Kris lifts the curtain on China’s approach to information warfare, driven by the Hong Kong protests and its regional hegemonic ambitions. 

Speaking of China, it looks as though that government’s determination to bring the Uighur population to heel led it to create a website devoted to compromising iPhones, in the process disclosing a few zero-days and compromising anybody who viewed the site. Dave Aitel teases out some of the less obvious lessons. He criticizes Apple for not giving security-minded users the tools they need to protect themselves. But he resists my suggestion that the FBI, which first flagged the site for Google’s Project Zero, went to Google because Apple wasn’t responsive to the Bureau’s concerns. (Alternative explanation: If you embarrass the FBI in court, don’t be surprised if they embarrass you a few years later.)

The lesson of the fight over Chinese disinformation about Hong Kong on Twitter and Facebook and the awkwardness of Apple’s situation when faced with Chinese hacking is that the U.S.-China trade war is a lot more than a trade war. It’s a grinding, continental decoupling drift that the trade war is driving but which the Trump Administration probably couldn’t stop now if the president wanted to. We puzzle over exactly what the president does want. Then I shift to mocking CNN for Trump derangement and inaccuracy (yes, it’s an easy target, but give me a break, I’ve been away for a month): Claims that the president couldn’t “hereby order” U.S. companies to speed their decoupling from China are just wrong as a matter of law. In fact, the relevant law, still in effect with modest changes, used to be called the Trading with the Enemy Act. And it’s been used to “hereby order” the decoupling of the U.S. economy from countries like Nazi Germany, among others. Whether such an order in the case of China would be “lawful but stupid” is another question.

August saw more flareups over alleged Silicon Valley censorship of conservative speech. Facebook has hired former Sen. Kyl to investigate claims of anti-conservative bias in its content moderation, and the White House is reportedly drafting an executive order to tackle Silicon Valley bias. I ask whether either the FTC or FCC will take up their regulatory cudgels on this issue and suggest that Bill Barr’s Justice Department might have enough tools to enforce strictures against political bias in platform censorship. 

We close with the most mocked piece of tech-world litigation in recent weeks – Crown Sterling’s lawsuit against BlackHat for not enforcing its code of conduct while the company was delivering a widely disparaged sponsored talk about its new crypto system. Dave Aitel, who runs a cybersecurity conference of his own, lays out the difficulties of writing and enforcing a conference code of conduct. I play Devil’s Advocate on behalf of Crown Sterling, and by the end, Dave finds himself surprised to feel just a bit of Sympathy for the Devil.

Download the 275th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-275.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:36am EDT

Our guests this week are Paul Scharre from the Center for a New American Security and Greg Allen from the Defense Department’s newly formed Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Paul and Greg have a lot to say about AI policy, especially with an eye toward national security and strategic competition. Greg sheds some light on the Defense Department’s activity, and Paul helps us understand how the military and policymakers are grappling with this emerging technology. But at the end of the day, I want to know: Are we at risk of losing the AI race with China? Paul and Greg tell me not all hope’s lost—and how we can retain technological leadership.

In what initially seemed like a dog-bites-man story, Attorney General Barr revived the “warrant-proof” encryption debate. He brings some thoughtful arguments to the table, including references to proposals by GCHQ, Ray Ozzie and Matt Tait. Nick Weaver is skeptical toward GCHQ’s proposal. But what really flew under the radar this week was Facebook’s apparent plan to drastically undermine end-to-end encryption by introducing content moderation to its messaging services. I argue that Silicon Valley is so intent on censoring its users that it is willing to sacrifice confidentiality and security (at least for anyone to the right of George W. Bush). News Roundup newcomer Dave Aitel thinks I’m wrong, at least in my attribution of Facebook’s motivations.

Mieke Eoyang, another News Roundup newcomer, brings us up to date on all the happenings in election security. Bob Mueller’s testimony brought Russian election meddling to the fore. His mistake, I argue, was testifying first to the hopelessly ideological House Judiciary Committee. Speaking of Congress, Mieke notes that the Senate Intel Committee released a redacted report finding that every state was targeted by Russian hackers in the 2016 election—and argues that we’re still not prepared to handle their ongoing efforts.

Congress is attempting to create a federal election security mandate through several different election security bills, but they likely will continue to languish in the Senate, despite what Mieke sees as a bipartisan consensus. Not all hope is lost, though. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, now on his way out, has established a new office to oversee and coordinate election security intelligence. Nick adds an extra reason to double down on election security: How else will we be able to convince the loser that he is indeed the loser?

In other news, NSA is going back to the future by establishing a new Cybersecurity Directorate. Dave tries to shed some light on the NSA’s history of reorganizations and what this new effort means for the Agency. Dave and I think there’s hope that this move will help NSA better reach the private sector—and even give the Department of Homeland Security a run for its money.

I also offer Dave the opportunity to respond to critics who argued that his firm, Immunity Inc., was wrong to include a version of the BlueKeep exploit in its commercial pentesting software. The long and the short of it: If a vulnerability has been patched, then that patch gives an adversary everything they need to know to exploit that vulnerability. It only makes sense, then, to make sure your clients are able to protect themselves by testing exploits against that vulnerability.

Mieke brings us up to speed on the cybercrime blotter. Marcus Hutchins, one of Dave’s critics, pleaded guilty to distributing the Kronos malware but was sentenced to time served thanks in part to his work to stop the spread of the WannaCry ransomware. Mieke says that Hutchins’s case is a good example that not all black hat hackers are irredeemable. I note that it was good for him that he made his transition before he was arrested. Dave and Nick support the verdict while lamenting how badly hackers are treated by U.S. law. 

We round out the News Roundup with quick hits: Facebook had a very bad week, not least because of the multibillion dollar fine imposed by the FTC; the Department of Justice is going to launch a sweeping antitrust investigation into Big Tech; there was a wild hacking conspiracy in Brazil involving cell phones and carwashes; Equifax reached a settlement with the FTC regarding its epic data breach. Speaking of which, we make a special offer to loyal listeners who can learn whether they are eligible to claim a $125 check (or free credit monitoring, if you really prefer). Just go here, and be sure to tell them the Cyberlaw Podcast sent you. Oh, and an anti-robocall bill finally made it through both houses of Congress.

 

Download the 274th Episode (mp3). 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-274.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11pm EDT

Today, I interview Frank Blake, who as CEO brought Home Depot through a massive data breach. Frank is a former co-clerk of mine; a former deputy secretary of energy; and the current host of Crazy Good Turns, a podcast about people who have found remarkable, even crazy, ways to help others. In addition to his insights on what it takes to lead an organization, Frank offers his views on how technology can transform nonprofit charitable initiatives. Along the way, he displays his characteristic sense of humor, especially about himself.

In the News Roundup, I ask Matthew Heiman if Google could have had a worse week in Washington. First Peter Thiel raised the question of whether it’s treasonous for the company to work on AI with Chinese scientists, not the U.S. Defense Department, and then Richard Clarke, hardly a conservative, says he agrees with the criticism. Inevitably, President Trump weighed in with a Thiel-supporting tweet. Meanwhile, on the Hill, Google’s VP says the company has “terminated” Project Dragonfly, an effort to build a search engine that the Chinese government would approve. But that doesn’t prevent conservatives from lambasting the company for bias against conservatives and an unfair subsidy in the form of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The only good news for Google is that, despite all the thunder, no lightning has yet struck. Or so we thought for about five minutes, at which time Gus Hurwitz noted that Google is likely to face multimillion-dollar fines in a Federal Trade Commission investigation of child Internet privacy violations, not to mention a rule-making designed to increase the probability of future fines.

Speaking of which, European lightning struck Amazon this week in the form of new competition law scrutiny. Gus offers skepticism about the EU’s theory, over my counter-skepticism.

Nick Weaver is astonished at the way Julian Assange managed to turn the Ecuadorian embassy into a fist-fighting, feces-smearing, election-meddling command post.

Nick also predicts that Kazakhstan will lose its war with Silicon Valley browser makers over a man-in-the-middle certificate the Kazakh government is forcing on its citizens in order to monitor their Internet browsing. 

And in short hits, Gus questions whether $650 million is a harsh settlement of Equifax’s data breach liability; Nick closes the books on NSA hoarder Hal Martin’s 9-year prison sentence; and Nick explains the latest doxing of an intelligence agency—this time a contractor for the Russian FSB.

 

Download the 273rd Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-273.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:02pm EDT

What is the federal government doing to get compromised hardware and software out of its supply chain? That’s what we ask Harvey Rishikof, coauthor of “Deliver Uncompromised,” and Joyce Corell, who heads the Supply Chain and Cyber Directorate at the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. There’s no doubt the problem is being admired to a fare-thee-well, and some evidence it’s also being addressed. Listen and decide!

In the News Roundup, Nate Jones and I disagree about the Second Circuit ruling that President Trump can’t block his critics on Twitter. We don’t disagree about that ruling, but I’m a lot more skeptical than Nate that it will be applied to that other famous Washington tweeter, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

GDPR still sucks, but now it bites, too. Matthew Heiman explains just how bad the bite was for Marriott and British Airways.

Gus Hurwitz reprises how much—or little—we know about the FTC and Facebook. We won’t know much, he says, until we answer the question, “Where’s the complaint?”

Talk about hard supply chain issues. Congress banned Chinese surveillance cameras from the federal supply chain, but that turns out to be a lot different from, you know, actually getting rid of them

For a change of pace, Gus and I rag on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for its petition that the Supreme Court overturn a Fourth Circuit ruling that adding “.com” to a generic term makes it trademarkable. You tell ‘em, USPTO! It’s not like adding “.com” to a word has the same creativity and distinctiveness as adding “i” in front of “phone” or “pod.”

Nate and I spar over whether Section 301 can be used to retaliate against France for its 3% digital tax.

Matthew tells us that the Trump administration isn’t sharing details on classified cyberattack rules with Congress, and after a modicum of mockery, we actually find ourselves agreeing with Congress’s demand to be briefed on the rules.

Finally, in quick hits, I flag the hypocrisy of those who claim to love the idea of privacy until it gets in the way of boycotting people they disagree with and the surprising ways that GDPR has enabled personal data breaches on an industrial scale.

Download the 272nd Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-272.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:39pm EDT

This week I interview Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville law school, about his new book, “The Social Media Upheaval.” In a crisp 64 pages, Glenn analogizes social media to a primeval city, where new proximity produces periodic outbreaks of diseases that more isolated people never experienced; traces social media’s toxicity to the desperate pursuit of engagement; and proposes remedies both for individual users and for society whole.  All that plus thoughtful advice on dietary supplements and deadlifts!

In the news roundup, Matthew Heiman dissects a recent Third Circuit ruling that Amazon can be held strictly liable for products it markets for third parties. Unlike Matthew, I am largely persuaded by the court’s ruling on products liability—but Matthew and I both have doubts about its use of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to protect Amazon from failure to warn liability.

Maury Shenk and Nick Weaver review the progress of the War on Facial Recognition. Opponents have rolled out the ultimate weapon in modern left ideology—ICE is using it! But facial recognition is still winning, mostly because its opponents are peddling undifferentiated fear of a technology that’s already being used for many very different purposes, from anonymously tracking shoppers moving through a store (where the store doesn’t need to know the shoppers’ identities) to boarding planes (where the airline damn well better know the passengers’ identities, and the tech only has a couple of hundred faces to match).

Matthew and Nick consider China’s seizing and installing spyware on travelers’ devices. Turns out, China’s practice isn’t all that different from most government efforts to extract data from phones, except that the Chinese leave the code on Android devices so that security researchers can reverse engineer China’s deepest fears. And what do they fear most? Japanese heavy metal, apparently. Almost makes you feel a bit of empathy for Beijing…

Maury also highlights Big Tech’s concerns about the UK’s particularly aggressive proposal for an online “duty of care.”

Nick and I follow the problem of fake cancer cures being advertised on Facebook and YouTube down the usual ratholes—who should be responsible in the first place, and why does Silicon Valley think that algorithms will ever be able to discipline such content?

This Week in the U.S.-China trade war: No one seems to know exactly what President Trump’s concessions at the G-20 meeting amount to, but more and more U.S. tech companies have decided that moving 30% of their tech sourcing out of China is a good idea no matter how the trade war ends. This war isn’t good for U.S. companies, but it’s really not good for China’s. Which, come to think of it, is what President Trump has said right from the start.

Finally, if you’re looking for tough government action against contractors with bad cybersecurity, Customs and Border Patrol is your agency.  It has cut ties with Perceptics, the firm that was breached by Boris the Bullet-Dodger, and seems to be readying a debarment proceeding that will cut the firm off from future contracts. Matthew and I speculate that there may be something more behind this harsh remedy—perhaps a lack of prompt contractor candor about the breach. Whatever the context, this proceeding is likely to set a precedent that haunts other contractors long into future.

Download the 271st Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-271.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:40am EDT

The theme this week is China’s growing confidence in using cyberweapons in new and sophisticated ways, as the U.S. struggles to find an answer to China’s growing ambition to dominate technology. Our interview guest, Chris Bing of Reuters, talks about his deep dive story on Chinese penetration of managed service providers like HP Enterprise—penetration that allowed them access to hundreds of other companies that rely on managed service providers for most of their IT. Most chilling for the customers are strong suggestions that the providers often didn’t provide notice of the intrusions to their customers—or that the providers’ contracts may have prevented their customers from launching quick and thorough investigations when their own security systems detected anomalous behavior originating with the providers. Chris also tells the story of an apparent Five Eyes intrusion into Yandex, the big Russian search engine.

Returning to China, in our News Roundup Nate Jones covers the latest in the U.S.-China trade war before diving into a Wall Street Journal article (by Kate O’Keeffe) that I call the Rosetta Stone for the last two years of cyber policymaking. Looking for the unifying theme in the lobbying fight over FIRRMA, the president’s executive orders on cyber and sanctions on companies like Sugon? Look no further than AMD, its aggressive accommodation of China’s ambitions in chip manufacture, and the Pentagon’s desperate effort to thwart the company’s plans. Nate and I also consider a possible new U.S. requirement that domestic 5G equipment be made outside China.

What is China planning to do with all that cyber power? Jordan Cannon lays out one little-followed story in which China seems to have taken an election-tilting page straight out of Vladimir Putin’s textbook. And Nate covers a newly patient Chinese hacking cadre willing to compromise a dozen telecomm companies for years just to collect metadata on as few as twenty telecomm customers.

Speaking of metadata, David Kris explains why Congress is more exercised over National Security Agency’s (NSA) access to American phone metadata than China’s. Congress took the view that NSA should not collect the metadata of innocent Americans, even if it only searched the data when it had a legal basis for doing so. Instead, Congress constructed a new Section 215 program that depended on each telecomm company to do searches of data that remained in their hands. Unsurprisingly, the companies have done that badly, sending the wrong data to NSA on more than one occasion. Naturally, Congress now blames NSA for “overcollecting.” 

Are you a conservative comforting yourself with the idea that Silicon Valley censorship is just a creature of platform monopoly that can be cured by more competition? Better stop reading the newspaper, as of last week. Two more conservative-hostile moves by Silicon Valley show that competition isn’t likely to end virtue signaling in the Valley. After Google banned Project Veritas’s video exposé of YouTube for, uh, privacy—that’s it, privacy—violations, its distant No. 2 competitor Vimeo responded to the competitive opportunity by also banning the video for, uh, defamation or something. And when Twitter competitor Parler offered a home to conservatives, Apple reportedly threatened (at least briefly) not to distribute the app unless it kicked some unspecified bad actors off the service.

Meanwhile, two Silicon Valley platforms that really do need at least a few conservatives were singing that famous C&W song, “I hate you. I need you. I hate that I need you.” And just to show their contempt for people they’re afraid to shut down completely, Reddit “quarantined” their wildly popular subreddit r/the_donald over posts the moderators said they’d never seen or had reported to them. And Twitter announced that it planned to salve its SJW conscience while still profiting from Trump’s tweets by attaching disapproving labels to them. Nate tries to hose me down, but it’s too late. 

Finally, in breaking news from 1993, David reports that the Trump Administration is considering an encryption crackdown but can’t choose between a toothless statement of principles and a feckless proposal of legislation that will not pass. I offer the suggestion that the statement of principles will be enough to undercut Silicon Valley’s campaign to stop encryption controls in countries like Australia, the UK and Germany. That’s where controls will eventually come from, David and I agree. I’m looking forward to all those folks who told us that GDPR was just the voice of civilization calling across the Atlantic saying the same about European encryption mandates.

 

Download the 270th Episode (mp3). 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-270.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23pm EDT

Our interview guests are Dick Clarke and Rob Knake, who have just finished their second joint book on cybersecurity, The Fifth Domain. We talk about what they got right and wrong in their original book. There are surprising flashes of optimism from Clarke and Knake about the state of cybersecurity, and the book itself is an up-to-date survey of the policy environment. Best of all, they have the courage to propose actual policy solutions to problems that many others just admire. I disagree with about half of their proposals, so much light and some heat are shed in the interview, which I end by bringing back the McLaughlin Group tradition of rapid-fire questions and an opinionated “you’re wrong” whenever the moderator disagrees. C’mon, you know the arguments are really why you listen, so enjoy this one!

In the news roundup, Gus Hurwitz covers the Supreme Court’s ruling on when a forum is subject to First Amendment limits. Short version: There is no Justice who thinks Silicon Valley’s platforms are public fora subject to the First Amendment. Sen. Hawley (R.-Mo.) is mocked, which prompts me to invite him to defend himself on a future episode (not because the First Amendment applies to the podcast but because it would be fun).

Matthew Heiman spells out the thinking behind Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency. He thinks it’s all about the data; I think it’s all about WeChat. Whatever the motive, every regulatory body in Europe and the U.S. has descended on the company to extract concessions—or perhaps to kill it outright, as our own Nick Weaver has proposed.

Maury Shenk reports on the U.S. government’s threat to limit Indian H-1B visas if India persists in its extreme data localization policies. I suggest that the fight may be as much about terrorism finance as protectionism.

This week behind the Silicon Curtain: Apple is considering moving 15-30% of its production capacity out of China. Matthew and I agree that it’s easier said than done, but that the move is inevitable.

Gus lays out the difficulties that YouTube has had meeting the child protection requirements of the Child Online Privacy Protection Rule and the Federal Trade Commission’s growing interest in changing YouTube’s approach to videos aimed at kids.

Is China’s social credit rating system a Potemkin village? Bloomberg seems to think so, but Maury has his doubts. So, if you thought you could stop fearing the system and start laughing at it, better think again. 

Finally, this week in karma: The medical billing firm whose cybersecurity failings resulted in multiple medical data breaches has filed for bankruptcy, evidently the result of liabilities arising from the breach.

 

Download the 269th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-269.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:19am EDT

We kick off Episode 267 with Gus Hurwitz reading the runes to see whether a 50-year Chicago winter for antitrust plaintiffs is finally thawing in Silicon Valley. Gus thinks the predictions of global antitrust warming are overhyped. But he recognizes we’re seeing an awful lot of robins on the lawn: The rise of Margrethe Vestager in the EU, the enthusiasm of state AGs for suing Big Tech, and the piling on of Dem presidential candidates and the House of Representatives. Judge Koh’s Qualcomm decision is another straw in the wind, triggering criticism from Gus (“an undue extension of Aspen Skiing”) and me (“the FTC needs a national security minder in privacy and competition law”). Matthew Heiman tells me I’m on the wrong page in suggesting that Silicon Valley’s suppression of conservative speech is a detriment to consumer welfare that the antitrust laws should take it into account, even in a Borkian world

I mock Austrian Greens for suing to censor speech calling it a “fascist party”—and not just in Austria but around the world. That’ll show ‘em, guys. Less funny is the European Court of Justice’s advocate general, who more or less buys the Greens’ argument. And thereby reminds us why we miss Tom Wolfe, who famously said, “The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.”

Nate Jones answers the question, “Were the Russians much better at social media than we thought?” All the adjustments to that story, he notes, have increased the sophistication we’ve seen in Russia’s social media attacks.

This Week in Host Self-Promotion: I take advantage of the topic to urge my solution to the utterly unsolved problem of hack-and-dox attacks by foreign governments on U.S. candidates they don’t like: Ban the distribution of data troves stolen from candidates and officials. Nate agrees that the First Amendment doctrine here is a lot friendlier to my proposal than most people think, but he cautions that the details get messy fast.

Matthew comments on Baltimore’s tragedy of errors in handling its ransomware attack. The New York Times’ effort to pin the blame on NSA, which always looked tendentious and agenda-driven, now has another problem: It’s almost certainly dead wrong. EternalBlue doesn’t seem to have been used in the ransomware attack. Baltimore’s best case now is that its cybersecurity sucked so bad that other, completely unrelated hackers were using EternalBlue to wander the city’s system.

Speaking of cybersecurity, Matthew reminds us of two increasingly common and dangerous hacker tactics: (1) putting the “P” in APT by hanging around the system so long that you’ve downloaded all the manuals, taken all the online training, and know exactly when and how to scam the system; and (2) finding someone with lousy network security who’s connected to a harder target and breaking in through the third party.

Finally, Gary Goldsholle helps us make sense of the litigation between the SEC and Kik, which launched a cryptotoken that it insisted wasn’t a security offering and then crowdfunded its lawsuit against the SEC. So, good news for lawyers if nothing else, and perhaps for future Initial Popcorn Offerings. 

 

Download the 267th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-267.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:41pm EDT

If you’ve lost the Germans on privacy, you’ve lost Europe, and maybe the world. That’s the lesson that emerges from my conversation with David Kris and Paul Rosenzweig about the latest declaration that the German interior minister wants to force messaging apps to decrypt chats. This comes at the same time that industry and civil society groups are claiming that GCHQ’s “ghost proposal” for breaking end-to-end encryption should be rejected. The paper, signed by all the social media giants, says that GCHQ’s proposal will erode the trust that users place in Silicon Valley. I argue that that argument is well past its sell-by date.

Speaking of trust, Paul outlines the latest tit-for-tat in the growing Silicon Curtain between the US and China, as that country announces plans to publish an “unreliable entities” list. I note that the same spirit seems to be animating the announcement that China and Russia are transitioning their militaries from Microsoft Windows to other operating systems. Talk about a bonanza for the NSA: Just the coding errors will sustain its hackers for a generation – even in the unlikely event that the Chinese and Russians resist the temptation to seed the system with backdoors aimed at their erstwhile coding partners.

Maury Shenk highlights the latest German effort to regulate “broadcasting” of content on the Internet, which the German authority says will mandate transparency and diversity. I think it’s transparently about locking in the German establishment, a view hardly contradicted by the ham-handed way CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer responded to the CDU’s drubbing in the EU elections. The losses were widely attributed to YouTube influencers who urged young voters to reject the main parties. The solution, AKK suggested, was more regulation of YouTube influencers. Ja, natürlich.

David brings us up to date on Iran’s latest effort to engage in social media manipulation and Facebook’s response.

Alicia Loh parses a D.C. Circuit ruling that all the White House has to do to comply with laws on keeping records of official communications is send out a memo. That obligation was satisfied, the court ruled, by a memo telling White House staff who use “vanishing” messaging apps to take screenshots of any official communications and preserve the messages. Alicia is practically the only member of our panel who even knows how to take a screenshot on a phone, which suggests that White House staff compliance might be, well, underwhelming.

Maury gives us a quick update on US states imitating GDPR. Short version: Watch California and then New York. 

And in a lightning round, I am struck by the sight of an FTC commissioner begging the Ninth Circuit not to uphold the FTC’s position in the Qualcomm case on appeal. Maury and I note the growing demand for mass contract labor spurred by the need to train AI. And Paul and I speculate on the probability of antitrust cases against Google and Amazon. It’s been a long cold Chicago winter for antitrust plaintiffs, we conclude, but a change in the climate may be coming. 

Download the 266th Episode (mp3). 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-266.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm EDT

Paul Rosenzweig leads off with an enduring and fecund feature in Washington these days: China Tech Fear. We cover the Trump administration’s plan to blacklist up to five Chinese surveillance companies, including Hikvision, for contributing to human rights violations against Uighurs in the Xinjiang province in China, the Department of Homeland Security’s rather bland warning that commercial Chinese drones pose a data risk for U.S. users, and the difficulty U.S. chipmakers are facing in getting “deemed export” licenses for Chinese nationals.

We delve deeper into a remarkably shallow and agenda-driven New York Times article by Nicole Perlroth and Scott Shane blaming the National Security Agency for Baltimore’s ransomware problem without ever asking why the city failed for two years to patch its systems. David Kris uses the story to talk about the vulnerabilities equities process and its flaws.

There may be a lot—or nothing—to the Navy email “spyware” story, but David points out just how many modern cyber issues it touches. With the added fillip of a “Go Air Force, Beat Navy” theme not usually sounded in cybersecurity stories.

Paul expands on what I have called “Cheap Fakes” (as opposed to “Deep Fakes”): the Pelosi video manipulated to make her sound impaired. And he manages to find something approaching good news in the advance of faked video—it may mean the end of (video) blackmail.

But not the end of “revenge porn” and revenge porn laws. I ask Gus Hurwitz whether those laws are actually protected by the Constitution, and the answer turns out to be highly qualified. But, surprisingly, media lawyers aren’t objecting that revenge porn laws that criminalize the dissemination of true facts are on a slippery slope to criminalizing news media. That is the argument they’re making about the expanded charges of espionage against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. David offers his view of the pros and cons of the indictment.

And Gus closes us out with some almost unalloyed good news. Despite my suspicion of any bipartisan bill in the current climate, he insists that the Senate-passed anti-robocalling bill is a straight victory for the Forces of Good. But, he warns, the House could still screw things up by adding a private right of action along the lines of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which has provided the plaintiffs bar with an endless supply of cases without actually benefiting consumers.

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-265.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:09pm EDT

We begin this episode with a quick tour of the Apple antitrust decision that pitted two Trump appointees against each other in a 5-4 decision. Matthew Heiman and I consider the differences in judging styles that produced the split and the role that 25 years of “platform billionaires” may have played in the decision.

Eric Emerson joins us for the first time to talk about the legal fallout from the latest tariff increases on Chinese products. Short version: Companies have some short-term tactics to explore (country of origin, drawback, valuation), but large importers and resellers have to grapple with larger and costlier strategies of supply chain diversification and localization.

Meanwhile, China has not been taking the trade war lying down. In addition to its own tariff increases, it seems to be enforcing its demanding cybersecurity law more aggressively against foreign firms. I ask whether we are also seeing retaliation in Chinese courts as well.

In related news, Nick Weaver and I debate the potentially sweeping new Executive Order on Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain.

Maury Shenk explains the UK Supreme Court ruling that expands the court’s authority over the UK’s intelligence agencies despite clear Parliamentary language to the contrary. Bottom line: Bad news for UK intelligence. Hidden good news for the U.S.: Turns out that there is something worse than activist judges interpreting a written constitution—activist judges who can more or less make up the constitution they want.

It was a cybersecurity disaster week for some of the biggest names in tech. Nick helps me understand which bugs were worst, Cisco’s, Intel’s or Microsoft’s. Then we review the equally bad week that the NSO Group and its WhatsApp exploit had.

Cleaning up in a lightning round, we cover the order requiring the Chinese owner of Grindr to sell by mid-2020. We also cover Canada’s approach to social media, which spurs me to praise France’s Macron (!) for his moderation. The EU has a plan for sanctions on cyberattackers; Matthew and I doubt it will get much use. I think too much fuss is being made over leak investigators using Web bugs to see if defense counsel at Guantanamo have been leaking; Nick disagrees, at least a bit. And I close with yet another item in the long-running feature, “This Week in Internet Sex Toy Law.” Suffice it to say that the latest case can’t be understood without consulting both Orin Kerr and Jerry Seinfeld.

  

Download the 264th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-264.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:46pm EDT

With apologies for the late post, Episode 263 of The Cyberlaw Podcast tells the sad tale of another U.S. government leaker who unwisely trusted The Intercept not to compromise its source. As Nick Weaver points out, The Intercept also took forever to actually report on some of the material it received.

In other news, Brian Egan and Nate Jones agree that Israel broke no new ground in bombing the headquarters of Hamas’s rudimentary hacking operation during active hostilities.

Nick and I dig into the significance of China’s use of intrusion tools pioneered by NSA. We also question the New York Times’s grasp of the issue

The first overt cyberattack on the U.S. electric grid was a bust, I note, but that’s not much comfort.

How many years of being told “I’m washing my hair that night” should tell you you’re not getting anywhere? The FCC probably thought China Mobile should have gotten the hint after eight years of no action on its application to provide US service, but just in case the message didn’t get through, it finally pulled the plug last week.

Delegating to Big Social the policing of terrorist content has a surprising downside, as Nate points out. Sometimes the government or civil society need that data to make a court case.

We touch briefly on Facebook’s FTC woes and whether Sen. Hawley (R.-Mo.) should be using the privacy stick to beat a company he’s mad at for other reasons. I reprise my longstanding view that privacy law is almost entirely about beating companies that you’re mad at for other reasons.

 

Download the 263rd Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-263.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:02pm EDT

Has the Chinese government hired American lawyers to vet their cyberespionage tactics—or just someone who cares about opsec? Probably the latter, and if you’re wondering why China would suddenly care about opsec, look no further than Supermicro’s announcement that it will be leaving China after a Bloomberg story claiming that the company’s supply chain was compromised by Chinese actors. Nick Weaver, Joel Brenner and I doubt the Bloomberg story, but it has cost Supermicro a lot of sales—and even if it isn’t true this time, the scale and insouciance of past Chinese cyberespionage make it inherently believable. Hence the company’s shift to other sources (and, maybe, a new caution on the part of Chinese government hackers).

GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) may be the Dumb and Dumber of privacy law, but neither is going away. And for the next six months, California’s legislature will be struggling against a deadline to make sense of the CCPA. Meegan Brooks gives us an overview.

But we in Washington can’t get too smug about California’s deadline-driven dysfunction. Congress also faces a year-end deadline to renew the Section 215 program, and even the executive branch hasn’t decided what it wants. Joel takes us through the program’s history, its snake-bitten implementation, and the possible outcomes in Congress.

This week in Silicon Valley content control: Facebook dropped the link-ban hammer on Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos for being “dangerous.” But did it really? Once again, I volunteer to put my Facebook access at risk by testing Facebook’s censorship engine—posting a different Infowars story there every day. Not because I love the conspiracy-mongering Alex Jones but because banning links is a bad idea. (Among other things, you can’t really pile links up and burn them in cinematic pyres at rallies.) But both Facebook and Jones may have a codependent interest in overstating the ban, because as of Day 4 of my experiment, my Facebook account is still alive and well, as are the Infowars links.

The FBI has accused U.S. scientists of sending intellectual property to China, running shadow labs and (this part really appalls Nick) corrupting the peer review process at NIH. Science magazine suggests that the flap is born of racial bias.

We close the episode with the latest and most shocking facial recognition scandal. It turns out face recognition researchers are chasing down unwilling subjects and restraining them to get the subjects’ pictures—all in service to untried and udderly unreliable technology. All we need to turn this into a major scandal is a public policy entrepreneur willing to work the intersection between the EFF and PETA. 

 

 

Download the 262nd Episode (mp3).

 

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-262.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:43pm EDT

On Episode 261, blockchain takes over the podcast again. We dive right into the recent activity from the SEC, namely, the Framework for “Investment Contract” Analysis of Digital Assets and the No-Action Letter issued to TurnKey Jet, Inc. (TurnKey) for a digital token. Gary Goldsholle noted this guidance has been eagerly anticipated since July 2017 when the SEC first applied the Howey Test to a digital token with the DAO report. The current framework focuses primarily on the reasonable expectation of profits and efforts of others prongs of the Howey Test. While the framework lays out a number of factors to consider when determining whether a token is a security, the practicality of those factors is still up for debate.

Will Turner explained that the TurnKey No-Action Letter was most useful for parties interested in structuring a private, permissioned, centralized blockchain, but believes the guidance in the Framework would allow for alternative structures. The key from the SEC’s perspective is that there is no expectation of profits for token holders, since the token is a stablecoin pegged to the value of USD and there is no use of the token outside of TurnKey’s network. Jeff Bandman noted the irony that the first No-Action Letter related to blockchain and cryptocurrency involves private jets, particularly since “Mr. and Ms. 401(k)”—the retail investors SEC Chairman Jay Clayton is focused on protecting—are not likely to become private jet users anytime soon.

Jeff emphasized the importance of network functionality and observed that the network for private jet use was already established. Alan Cohn highlighted this tension between the need for centralization to achieve functionality, and need for decentralization as a means to avoid meeting the “derived from the efforts of others” prong of the Howey Test.

Gary then turned to Blockstack’s Regulation A filing, the most comprehensive effort to register a token under Reg. A that we have seen to date. Blockstack is seeking to be a Tier 2 issuer, meaning they can raise up to $50 million in 12 months, which comes with heightened disclosure obligations and requires audited financials. While they seek to raise capital as a security today, their ultimate goal – and a central risk factor in their offering circular – is to achieve the requisite level of decentralization such that they no longer would meet the definition of a security.

Meanwhile, in Congress, the recently reintroduced Token Taxonomy Act of 2019 would exempt a newly defined category of digital tokens from the definition of a security, as well as provide some clarity on tax issues for cryptocurrency users and exchanges. Jeff observed that these amendments might contribute further to a gap in federal regulation over spot trading markets. While the CFTC has enforcement authority, they do not have the authority to directly supervise the bitcoin trading market. 

Turning to the interview, Jeff describes how he co-founded Global Digital Finance (GDF), along with other co-founders in Europe, Asia and the United States, in order to address the lack of international standards surrounding the blockchain industry—or even a general consensus of terminology. Jeff describes how GDF has a number of working groups focused on developing high-level principles and standards on a range of topics, including stablecoins, custody, tax and security tokens. GDF is trying to fill in some of the gaps that appear when jurisdictions regulate cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets differently. As an example of its work, GDF’s KYC/AML/CTF group recently commented on FATF’s standards, issuing two comments in October 2018 and April 2019.


Jeff is also in the process of launching a new transfer agent service, Block Agent, focused on enabling and supporting SEC-regulated issuances. As markets mature, it is increasingly important to have the necessary post-trade infrastructure, and he is committed to offering services that recognize the novel features and efficiencies around these new technologies. 

For our listeners in the D.C. area, Steptoe is hosting a half-day complimentary regulatory symposium this Thursday, May 2, in our D.C. office. Our plenary speakers include current and former commissioners and high-level officials with agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Surface Transportation Board, and the Environmental Protection Agency. We will also have breakout panels focused on four separate topics: Deference, Globalization, Regulatory/Legislative Approach and Preemption. To register, click here

Download the 261st Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-261.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21pm EDT

In this episode, Nick Weaver and I discuss new Internet regulations proposed in the UK. He’s mostly okay with its anti-nudge code for kids, but not with requiring proof of age to access adult material. I don’t see the problem; after all, who wouldn’t want to store their passport information with Pornhub?

Sri Lanka’s government has suspended social media access in the wake of the Easter attack. As Matthew Heiman notes, the reaction in the West is more or less a shrug—far different from the universal contempt and rejection displayed toward governments who did much the same during the 2011 Arab Spring rebellions. What made the difference? I argue that it’s Putin’s remarkably successful 2016 social media counterattack on Hilary Clinton as payback for her social media campaign against him in 2011.

DNS hijacking is just getting more brazen, according to a new Cisco Talos report. Nick and I talk about why that is and what could be done about it.

Paul Rosenzweig, back from hiatus and feisty as ever, mocks the EU Commission for its on-again, off-again criticism of Kaspersky’s security. Short version: The Commission wants badly to play in cybersecurity because it’s the Hot New Thing, but it has no institutional competence there, in either sense of the word. Speaking of Kaspersky, someone is doing a bad job of trying to compromise its critics with ham-handed private investigator-imposters.

Naked Kitten? Nick and I have a good laugh at the doxxing of Iranian government hackers.

Man bites dog: The Trump Administration is taking interagency processes seriously, and doing a better job than Obama’s team—at least when it comes to use of Cyber Command. Matthew dives into the repeal of PPD-20.

Paul brings us up to date on the Mar-a-Lago Thumb Drive Affair. Maybe it wasn’t malware after all.

Remember that face recognition software that the NGOs said was so crappy it had to be banned? Now, the New York Times reports that it’s so good it has to be banned. Not so fast, says Microsoft: Our face recognition software is still so crappy that it can’t be sold to law enforcement, and it ought to be export controlled so that China can sell—and keep improving—its face recognition tools.

Bet you thought we forgot the Mueller Report. Nope! In fact, I offer the one conclusion about the report that everyone across the political spectrum can agree on. Anti-climactically, Paul and I point out that the report throws sidelights on the "Going Dark" debate and Bitcoin anonymity. Nick points out that we already knew everything the Mueller Report tells us on those topics.

Finally, Nick and I wrangle over the lessons to be drawn from Facebook’s privacy travails.

 

Download the 260th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-260_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:54pm EDT

Our News Roundup is hip deep in China stories. The inconclusive EU-China summit gives Matthew Heiman and me a chance to explain why France understands—and hates—China’s geopolitical trade strategy more than most.

Maury Shenk notes that the Pentagon’s reported plan to put a bunch of Chinese suppliers on a blacklist is a bit of a tribute to China’s own list of sectors not open to Western companies. In other China news, Matthew discloses that there’s reason to believe that China has finally begun to use all the U.S. personnel data it stole from OPM. I’m so worried it may yet turn my hair pink, at least for SF-86 purposes.

And in a sign that it really is better to be lucky than to be good, Matthew and I muse on how the Trump Administration’s China policy is coinciding with broader economic trends to force U.S. companies to reconsider their reliance on Chinese manufacturing.

It’s not all China, though. To kick things off, Nick Weaver and I schadenfreude our way through an otherwise serious take on the Julian Assange story and its strikingly narrow Computer Fraud and Abuse Act charge—and why extradition is likely to be a pain.

We also delve into the Google Sensorvault story. Nick and I agree that law enforcement access to location data, especially under the conditions set by Google, isn’t much of a privacy scandal, at least compared to private access to the same data. But that doesn’t mean it won’t raise endless legal problems for all concerned, partly because asking for a warrant out of the box isn’t quite the right legal or privacy framework.

Pete Jeydel notes two examples of CFIUS’s new toughness: It’s forcing a Russia-linked firm to sell stake in a cybersecurity company, and it has handed out a $1 million fine to a company that blew off its obligations under a mitigation agreement.

Maury covers the German data protection commissioner’s refusal to let German police store data in the Amazon cloud. The commissioner blames the CLOUD Act and the risk that US authorities may get cross-border access to the data. I flag the commissioner for hypocrisy and ignoring international law. Turns out that the Justice Department has a good new whitepaper out on the CLOUD Act, and it points out that remote access to offshore data has been an implicit part of the Budapest Convention since the ‘90s. 

Returning once more to China, Maury and I touch on the Chinese government’s use of AI to find Uighurs in crowds of Han Chinese. In my view, the only thing surprising about this story is that the New York Times thinks we should be surprised by it.

 

Download the 259th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-259.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05pm EDT

Our News Roundup leads with the long, slow death of Section 230 immunity. Nick Weaver explains why he thinks social media’s pursuit of engagement has led to a poisonous online environment, and Matthew Heiman replays the astonishing international consensus that Silicon Valley deserves the blame—and the regulation—for all that ails the Internet. The UK is considering holding social media execs liable for “harmful” content on their platforms. Australia has already passed a law to punish social media companies for failure to remove “abhorrent violent material.” And Singapore is not far behind. Even Mark Zuckerberg is reading the writing on the wall and asking for regulation. I note that lost in the hate directed at social media is any notion that other countries shouldn’t be able to tell Americans what they can and can’t read. I also wonder whether the consensus that platforms should be editors will add to conservative doubts about maintaining Section 230 at all—and in the process endanger the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that would enshrine Section 230 in U.S. treaty obligations.

Nate Jones and I summarize the latest Reuters piece on American hackers working for the UAE. The short version? This is more a victory lap combined with journalists’ special pleading than a major new story.

Nate also briefs us on the latest tale of woe from Silicon Valley, where taking Chinese money and tech means you’re likely to get burned—in a government-ordered fire sale.

Nick and I disagree about how flawed facial recognition is, but not on the fact that NGOs are working overtime to turn the technology toxic.

Nate gives Kaspersky’s lawyers high grades for imagination and effort but not for credibility in their claim that we can trust the company’s software because Russian law doesn’t authorize Putin to intercept its data feeds. 

And, with a hat tip to Gus Coldebella for the story, Matthew and I dig into the Washington attorney general’s $12 million settlement with Motel 6 for its cooperation with ICE. We think Motel 6 could have defended on federal preemption grounds and maybe gotten help from the Justice Department. But if the problem was bad publicity, that defense would have just made things worse.

Our interview is with Adam Segal, the Council on Foreign Relations’ expert on all things digital and China. Adam prognosticates on the likely fate of US-China trade talks, data localization in China, and on the future of China’s commercial cyberespionage plans.

Download the 258th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-258.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:58pm EDT

In today’s News Roundup, Klon Kitchen adds to the North Korean Embassy invasion by an unknown group. Turns out some of the participants fled to the U.S. and lawyered up, but the real tipoff about attribution is that they’ve given some of the data they stole to the FBI. That rules out CIA involvement right there.

Nick Weaver talks about Hal Martin pleading guilty to unlawfully retaining massive amounts of classified NSA hacking data. It’s looking more and more as though Martin was just a packrat, making his sentence of nine years in prison about right. But as Nick points out, that leaves unexplained how the Russians got hold of so much NSA data themselves.

Paul Hughes explains the seamy Europolitics behind the new foreign investment regulations that will take effect this month.

Nick explains the deeply troubling compromise of update certs at ASUS and the company’s equally troubling response. I ask why the only agency with clear authority over an incident with important national security implications is the FTC.

Nick and I comment on the Federal Trade Commission’s pending investigation of the privacy practices of seven Internet service providers.

Speaking of sensitive data practices, Klon talks about the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States’ belated recognition that maybe the Chinese government shouldn’t have access to the most intimate desires of a portion of the U.S. LGBTQ community. I try to explain the difference between Tik Tok and Yik Yak and mostly fail.

Meanwhile, in splinternet news, the EU Parliament has approved the controversial Copyright Directive. A bunch of MEPs, soon to be running for reelection, claim they meant to vote against it, really, but somehow ended up voting for it.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing Facebook for violating the Fair Housing Act. I ask listeners for help in finding guests who can talk about whether it’s a good idea to bar ad targeting that lets companies look for more customers like the ones they already have, even if their customers already skew toward particular genders and ethnicities.

Finally, Nick and I break down Gavin de Becker’s claim that the real killer in the Bezos sexting flap was Saudi Arabia. Plenty of smoke there, but the lack of a reference to any forensic evidence raises doubts about de Becker’s version of events.

Download the 257th Episode (mp3). 

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-257.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:05pm EDT

In our interview, Elsa Kania and Sam Bendett explain what China and Russia have learned from the American way of warfighting—and from Russia’s success in Syria. The short answer: everything. But instead of leaving us smug, I argue it ought to leave us worried about surprise. Elsa and Sam both try to predict where the surprises might come from. Yogi Berra makes an appearance.

In the News Roundup, David Kris explains the Fourth Circuit’s decision to accept a lib/left invitation to screw up the law of stored electronic communications for a generation.

And in other litigation, a Trump-appointed judge dismisses a lawsuit against Silicon Valley’s censorship of the right. Nate Jones and I agree that, while the decision is broadly consistent with law, it may spell trouble for Silicon Valley in the long run. That’s because it depends on an idiosyncratic U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit interpretation of the District’s public accommodation law. I speculate that Alabama or Texas or Mississippi could easily draft a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of viewpoint in public accommodations like the Internet. 

Nick Weaver and I note the UN report that North Korea has stolen $571 million, much of it in cryptocurrency. I ask whether the US Treasury could seize those ill-gotten bits. Maybe, says Nick, but it would really bollix up the world of cryptocurrency (not that he minds).

I explain why DHS will be rolling out facial scanning technology to a boatload of US airports—and why there’s no hidden privacy scandal in the initiative.

It kind of makes you wonder about their banks and their chocolate: Nick gloats as Switzerland’s proposed Internet voting system follows his predicted path from questionable to deep, smoking crater.

Elsa Kania and I touch on the Navy Secretary’s willingness to accept scathing criticism of the Navy’s cybersecurity. And Nick and I close with an effort to draw lessons from the disastrous software and human factor interactions at the heart of the Boeing 737 MAX crashes.

Download the 255th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-255.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:33am EDT

On Episode 254 of The Cyberlaw Podcast, Stewart spends a few days off the grid, and David Kris, Maury Shenk and Brian Egan extol the virtues of data privacy and the European Union in his absence.

 

Maury interviews James Griffiths, a journalist based in Hong Kong and the author of the new book, “The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet.”

 

In the news, David and Brian discuss last week’s revelation that the NSA is considering whether it will continue to seek renewal of the of the Section 215 “call detail record” program authority when it expires in December. We plug last week’s Lawfare Podcast in which the national security advisor to House Minority Leader McCarthy made news when he reported that the NSA hasn’t been using this program for several months. David waxes poetic on the little-known and little-used “lone wolf” authority, which is also up for renewal this year.

 

We explore the long lineup of politicians and government officials who are lining up with new proposals to “get tough” on large technology companies. Leading the charge is Sen. Warren, who promises to roll out a plan to break up “platform utilities”—basically, large Internet companies that run their own marketplaces—if she is elected president. Not to be outdone, the current chair of the Federal Trade Commission has urged that Congress provide new authorities for the FTC to impose civil enforcement penalties on tech (and presumably other) companies that violate their data privacy commitments. And last—but never least—the French finance minister announced that he will propose a 3 percent tax on the revenue of the 30 largest Internet businesses in France, most of which are U.S. companies.

 

David discusses how one technology company is using a more familiar tool—litigation—to fight back against Chinese companies for creating and then selling fake Facebook and Instagram accounts.

 

In the “motherhood and apple pie” category, Maury explains French President Macron’s call for the creation of a “European Agency for the Protection of Democracies” to protect elections against cyberattacks. And Brian covers a recently re-introduced bill, the Cyber Deterrence and Response Act, which would impose sanctions on “all entities and persons responsible or complicit in malicious cyber activities aimed against the United States.”

 

 

If you are in London this week, you can see James Griffiths during his book tour. On March 13, he will be at the Frontline Club, and on March 14, he will be at Chatham House. You can also see him later this month at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents Club.

 

 

Download the 254th Episode (mp3).

 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

 

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-254.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm EDT

Our interview is with two men who overcame careers as lawyers and journalists to become serial entrepreneurs now trying to solve the “fake news” problem. Gordon Crovitz and Steve Brill co-founded NewsGuard to rate news sites on nine journalistic criteria—using, of all things, real people instead of algorithms. By the end of the interview, I’ve confessed myself a reluctant convert to the effort. This is despite NewsGuard’s treatment of Instapundit, which Gordon Crovitz and I both read regularly but which has not received a green check. 

In the news, Klon Kitchen talks about the latest on cyberconflict with Russia: CyberCom’s takedown of the Russian troll farm during 2018 midterms. The Russians are certainly feeling abused. They are using U.S. attacks to justify pursuing “autonomous Internet,” and they’ve sentenced two Kaspersky Lab experts to long jail terms for treason.

Gus Hurwitz, Klon, and Nick Weaver muse on the latest evidence that information intermediaries still haven’t settled on a business model. Amazon marketplace sellers will now have the ability to remove what they deem counterfeit listings. Amazon has let the FTC discipline fake paid Amazon reviews. And The Verge has a disturbing article on the human costs of using human beings to enforce Facebook’s content rules. (The failure of Silicon Valley to get a handle on this problem is, of course, the key to NewsGuard’s business model.) 

Finally, just to give me an excuse to link to this Dr. Strangelove clip, Gus tells us that not even our prosthetic arms are safe from IoT hacking

Download the 253rd Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-253.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:45pm EDT

We interview Dmitri Alperovitch of CrowdStrike on the company’s 2019 Global Threat Report, which features a ranking of Western cyber adversaries based on how long it takes each of them to turn a modest foothold into code execution on a compromised network. The Russians put up truly frightening numbers—from foothold to execution in less than twenty minutes—but the real surprise is the North Koreans, who clock in at 2:20. The Chinese take the bronze at just over 4 hours. Dmitri also gives props to a newcomer—South Korea—whose skills are substantial.

In the News Roundup, I cheer the police for using “reverse location search warrants” to compel Google to hand over data on anyone near a crime scene. Nick Weaver agrees and puts the blame on Google and others who collect the data rather than the police who use it to solve crimes.

A committee of the U.K. House of Commons has issued a blistering final report on disinformation and fake news. I offer this TL;DR: that all right-thinking Brits must condemn Facebook because Leave won, just as all right-thinking Americans must condemn Facebook because Trump won. Maury Shenk takes a more nuanced view.

Nick and Dmitri explain just how scary the growth of DNSpionage has become. The only thing as scary seems to be the continuing effort to put voting systems on the Internet. Nick reacts to this in the typical way of his people.

The mysterious Facebook Title III case won’t be unsealed, so we really don’t know what the Justice Department was trying to get from Facebook.

The New York Times claims that India is proposing Internet censorship along China’s model. I think that’s just the New York Times’s bias showing and that India is mainly imitating Europe. Maury rides to the New York Times’s rescue.

In breaking news, The Cyberlaw Podcast has developed AI podcasting so good we don’t dare tell you about it.

This Week in Chutzpah: Alleged hacker Lauri Love has lost his bid to recover the data he stole. I want to know why we didn’t give it back to him with a couple of keyloggers installed. The temptation to decrypt—and give prosecutors new evidence—would be irresistible.

In closing, Nick and I dwell on YouTube’s pedophile comment problem and whether recommendation engines are more to blame than human nature.

Our colleagues Nate Jones and David Kris have launched the Culper Partners Rule of Law Series. Be sure to listen as episodes are released through Lawfare

Do you have policy ideas for how to improve cybercrime enforcement? Our friends at Third Way and the Journal of National Security Law & Policy are accepting proposals for their upcoming Cyber Enforcement Symposium. You can find the call for papers here.

 

Download the 252nd Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-252_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06am EDT

The backlash against Big Tech dominates this episode, with new regulatory initiatives in the U.S., EU, Israel, Russia and China. The misbegotten link tax and upload filter provisions of the EU copyright directive have survived the convoluted EU legislative gantlet. My prediction: The link tax will fail because Google wants it to fail, but the upload filter will succeed because Google wants YouTube’s competitors to fail.

Rumors are flying that the Federal Trade Commission and Facebook will agree on a $1+ billion fine on the company for failure to adhere to its consent decree. My guess? This is not so much about law as it is about the climate of hostility around the company since it took the blame for Trump’s election.

And, in yet another attack on Big Tech, the EU is targeting Google and Amazon for unfair practices as sales platforms.

Artificial intelligence is so overworked a tech theme that it has even attracted the attention of the White House and the Defense Department. We ask a new contributor, Jessica “Zhanna” Malekos Smith, to walk us through the president’s executive order on artificial intelligence. I complain that it’s a cookie-cutter order that could as easily be applied to alien abductions. The Pentagon’s AI strategy, in contrast, is somewhat more substantive.

If you can’t beat ‘em, ban ‘em. Instead of regulating Big Tech, Russia is looking to take its own internet offline in an emergency. The real question is whether Russia is planning to cause the emergency it’s protecting itself against. If so, we are profoundly unready.

The CFIUS model is contagious! Brian Egan tells us Israel is considering restrictions on Chinese investment as the world keeps choosing sides in the new cold war.

China’s Ministry of Public Security is now authorized to conduct no-notice penetration testing of internet businesses operating in China. I must say, it was nice of them to offer the service in beta to the Office of Personnel Management, Anthem and Equifax. Speaking of which, could this spell more trouble for Western firms doing business in China?

Brian touches on the Treasury Department’s new sanctions against Iranian organizations for supporting intelligence and cyber operations targeting U.S. persons. It turns out that the hackers had help—and that there is no ideology so loathsome it can’t win converts among Americans.

Nate Jones describes the EU’s plan to use “cyber sanctions” to fend off hackers during upcoming elections.

This Week in Old Guys You Shouldn’t Mess With: Nate reveals how 94-year-old William H. Webster helped take down a Jamaican scam artist.

Our colleagues Nate Jones and David Kris have launched the Culper Partners Rule of Law Series. Be sure to listen as episodes are released through Lawfare.

Do you have policy ideas for how to improve cybercrime enforcement? Our friends at Third Way and the Journal of National Security Law & Policy are accepting proposals for their upcoming Cyber Enforcement Symposium. You can find the call for papers here.

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunesGoogle PlaySpotifyPocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-251.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:02pm EDT

If you get SMS messages on your phone and think you have two-factor authentication, you’re kidding yourself. That’s the message Nick Weaver and David Kris extract from two stories we cover in this week’s episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast—the Justice Department’s indictment of a couple of kids whose hacker chops are modest but whose social engineering skills are remarkable. They used those skills to bribe or bamboozle phone companies into changing the phone numbers of their victims, allowing them to intercept all the two-factor authentication they needed to steal boatloads of cryptocurrency. For those with better hacking chops than social skills, there’s always exploitation of SS7 vulnerabilities, which allow interception of text messages without all the muss and fuss of changing SIM cards.

Okay, it ain’t “When Harry Met Sally,” but for a degraded age, “When Bezos Exposed Pecker” will have to do. David keeps us focused on the legal questions: Was the “Enquirer” letter really extortion? Would publication of the pics be actionable? And is there any way the “Enquirer” could get those text messages without someone committing a crime? And, of course, whether the best way to woo your new girlfriend is to send her brother to jail.

Social media—privacy law threat or competition law menace? That’s the question European (naturally) regulators are weighing. But Matthew Heiman and I have a pretty good idea what their answer will be: Both! We look at the Twitter-mobbing of Facebook by regulators and ask whether the competition charges make more sense than the privacy claims.

Looks like the net effect of the Obama-Xi agreement on not stealing commercial secrets is that a better class of Chinese officials is stealing our commercial secrets. President Xi kicked the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to the curb and brought in the professionals from China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS). So now Chinese tradecraft is a little better, and the Justice Department is indicting MSS officials instead of PLA soldiers. David sums up.

NERC is proposing a $10 million fine for cybersecurity violations on a utility reported to be Duke Energy. Matthew and I are shocked. Not by the fine, which was negotiated, or by the violations, many of them self-reported, but by the cheese-paring, penny-ante nature of so-called cybersecurity enforcement at NERC and FERC. All this Sturm und Drang to make sure utilities use six-character passwords? When security guys complain about compliance trumping security, these NERC rules will be Exhibit A.

Finally, add another chapter to the Annals of Failed Civil Liberties Campaigns, as EFF and likeminded reporters try to get us outraged about the FBI using court orders to identify a North Korean botnet. Nick points out that academics have been conducting research that is more intrusive for years without unduly disturbing university lawyers.

Okay, one more: I celebrate HoyaSaxaSD for a podcast review that honors our own inimitable Nick Weaver:

“I got a fever, and the only cure is more Weaver. Love the show. I’m a lawyer but not in tech or security law, but it’s still fascinating. My teenage sons also like most episodes, especially the Nick Weaver segments. And I concur. There needs to be Weaver in every episode, and more of him. In fact, an hour of Weaver and Baker debating/discussing would be the perfect show.” 

I am moved to channel Peggy Lee. And if more good reviews don’t pour in, I may make that performance a weekly feature. David Kris, I’m sure, would consider that extortion, on the ground that no one has a right to butcher Peggy Lee’s oeuvre like that.

 

Do you have policy ideas for how to improve cybercrime enforcement? Our friends at Third Way and the Journal of National Security Law & Policy are accepting proposals for their upcoming Cyber Enforcement Symposium. You can find the call for papers here: https://www.thirdway.org/letter/2019-cyber-symposium-call-for-papers

 

Download the 250th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-250.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:30pm EDT

In this episode, I interview Chris Bing and Joel Schectman about their remarkable stories covering the actions of what amount to U.S. cyber-mercenary hackers. We spare a moment of sympathy for one of those hackers, Lori Stroud, who managed to go from hiring Edward Snowden to hacking for the UAE in the space of a few years.

In the news, I ask my partner Phil Khinda whether the $29 million Yahoo breach settlement is a new front in breach derivative litigation or a black swan. He says it’s more of a red herring—and explains why.

This week in black ops: I ask Nate Jones to comment on the tradecraft used in an apparent effort to smear Citizen Lab for its reports on NSO. My take: This feels a lot like what BlackCube did for Harvey Weinstein, except that this was the budget version.

The Russians are so far from being shamed for their hacking that now they’re faking it. Dr. Megan Reiss notes Special Counsel Mueller’s recent claim that Russians are leaking discovery materials and pretending they came from a hack of the counsel’s office. We are reminded of the Russians’ recent unveiling of a remarkably adroit robot that turned out to be a man in a robot suit.

Maury Shenk and I discuss Google’s latest imitation of Apple’s “law enforcement lockout” feature and its claim that hurting law enforcement was “unintended side effect.”

Maury also notes the flap over a flaw in Apple’s FaceTime that allows for eavesdropping. Predictably, New York State is investigating.

And in possibly related news, Apple went out of its way to publicly embarrass Facebook and Google over their use of corporate certificates to sideload apps that recorded the browsing habits of paid volunteers.

Quick hits:

This week in dogs biting men: Ukraine says Russia is trying to disrupt its upcoming election, and the Pentagon is reportedly failing to stay ahead of cyber threats. Megan covers the first and Nate the second.

I offer one and a half cheers for Japan’s pioneering and mildly intrusive survey of bot-vulnerable IoT devices

Finally, EPIC et al. are calling on FTC to impose a $2 billion fine, structural changes and more on Facebook, claiming that “the algorithmic bias of the [Facebook] news feed reflects a predominantly Anglo, male world view.” If you still need evidence that privacy law is the legal equivalent of a Twitter mob—an always-ready tool for punishing unpopular views—EPIC’s filing should be all you need.

 

Download the 249th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-249.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:26pm EDT

If the surgeon about to operate on you has been disciplined for neglecting patients, wouldn’t you like to know? Well, the mandarins of the European Union privacy lobby beg to differ. Google has been told by a Dutch court not to index that story, and there seems to have been a six-month lag in disclosing even the court ruling. That’s part of this week’s News Roundup. Gus Hurwitz and I are appalled. I tout my long-standing view that in the end, privacy law just protects the privileged. Gus agrees.

The interview is with John Carlin, author of “Dawn of the Code War.” It’s a great inside story of how we came to indict China’s hacker-spies for attacking US companies.

In other news, the Illinois Supreme Court has demonstrated how bad Illinois’ biometric privacy law is—by the simple expedient of applying it the way it’s written.

Dr. Megan Reiss and I air our ambivalence about the latest site hosting collections of doxed messages. We lack enthusiasm for indiscriminate doxing of the kind highlighted on Distributed Denial of Secrets, but if it’s got to happen, it couldn’t happen to a nicer Russian dictator.

Nick Weaver explains the DHS emergency order telling civilian agencies to protect themselves against DNS hijacking, and why the shutdown may have made those agencies more vulnerable.

Nick and I debate YouTube’s latest algorithmic tweak to avoid recommending “borderline” material. He notes that the algorithm used to push people to extremes. I note that this is a suspiciously good way for YouTube Social Justice Warriors to suppress videos they don’t like but can’t actually show to be violating YouTube’s terms of service.

Speaking of which, maybe the real singularity is when Silicon Valley joins forces with Beijing to produce new technology that will suppress the peasants once and for all. If so, the singularity is nigh, as a Chinese app allows you to identify people around you who deserve to be shamed.

 

Download the 248th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-248.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:46am EDT

So says the remarkable Jeff Jonas, CEO of Senzing. And he’s got a claim to be doing just that. A data scientist before data science was cool, Jeff has used his technical skills and an intuitive grasp of complex data problems to stop card counters in Las Vegas and terrorists targeting the U.S., and then to launch an initiative making voter registration more accurate and widespread. Most recently, in the course of an effort to improve maritime security around Singapore, he also found a key to identifying asteroids due to collide with each other so they can be watched. Because when this happens, who knows where their new course will take them?

The media has been hyping a strikingly bad magistrate judge’s opinion giving 5th Amendment protection to biometric phone security. This leads Gus Hurwitz and me to question why Congress ever promoted U.S. magistrates to “magistrate judges” in the first place. We suggest striking the word “judge” from the title given to these Article I judicial aides; call it the Truth in Judging Act.

Congress and the president can’t even agree on a compromise that would end the partial government shutdown. So what genius decided that our security from terrorist attacks should depend on Congress and the president agreeing every couple of years on yet another part of our counterterrorism legislation? Like it or not, though, 2019 will feature another cliffhanger, as several national security provisions of FISA come to an end unless renewed. Jamil Jaffer and David Kris talk about the provisions and possible outcomes. I plead for a compromise that takes seriously the Trumpist concern about partisan abuse of the law.

If the SEC didn't own EDGAR, I suspect the government would have imposed serious fines on the owner of EDGAR for enabling a new form of insider trading. Jamil and Gus debate the real question: How can hackers with access to guaranteed market moving info manage to make only $4 million in six months of trading?

The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has reversed an Obama-era interpretation limiting the scope of federal criminal laws governing online gambling. David provides the background; I introduce our listeners to the Baptist-bootlegger coalition. 

If you would like to hear more from Jeff Jonas and you’ll be in London on January 29, be sure to attend his talk, “AI for Entity Resolution,” at the SAGE Ocean speaker series. Event details can be found here.

 

Download the 247th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-247.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:12am EDT

Brazen Russian intrusions into the U.S. electricity grid lead our episode. I ask Matthew Heiman and Nick Weaver whether Russia intended for us to know about their intrusions (duh, yes!) and how we should respond to the implicit threat to leave Americans freezing in the dark. Their answers and mine show creativity if not exactly sobriety.

In what may be good news about emerging European sobriety, Google gets a favorable opinion from the advocate general to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the question of whether to extend Europe’s “right to be forgotten” censorship regime to benighted Americans, and Turks, and Russians and Chinese. Most of those countries would be glad to impose their censorship regime on Europeans, consideration of which may be enough to overcome the America Derangement Syndrome the ECJ has displayed in earlier tech privacy cases.

DHS was right, and EFF was wrong. That’s the lesson Maury Shenk, Nick and I derive from the latest drone crisis at Gatwick Airport. In response, the UK is seeking police powers that DHS recently obtained—over EFF’s bitter opposition.

Matthew unpacks the Fourth Circuit ruling that a politician cannot block constituents on her official Facebook page because it has become a public forum.

Nick explains how the Hal Martin Saga keeps getting weirder—and we try on the full aluminum foil hat to explain how the whole thing could have been orchestrated by the GRU to turn Kaspersky Lab into a hero.

Ron Wyden and Motherboard combined to get mobile phone companies to stop selling location data to third parties. I wonder whether we’ll regret the result. Nobody else does.

Happy New Year from Big Brother: Vietnam takes a leaf from the EU and Chinese playbooks, threatening Facebook with fines for allowing prohibited posts and failing to localize data.

For comic relief, we cover the cybersecurity misadventures of “El Chapo.” Nick Weaver sums up the lesson: Bespoke security is almost always bad security. Oh, and never take a phone from a paranoid boss.

We close with a quick review of how China has misused the Great Firewall to launch cyberattacks and what Silicon Valley (or the rest of us) can do in response. 

 

 

Download the 246th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-246.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:44am EDT

Nate Jones, David Kris and I kick off 2019 with a roundup of the month of news since we took our Christmas break. First, we break down the utterly predictable but undismissable Silicon Valley claim that the administration’s new export control strategy will hurt the emerging AI industry.

Then we draw on our guests’ expertise in counterintelligence prosecutions to review the APT10 indictment – and the claim by Jack Goldsmith and Robert Williams that the strategy is a failure. We conclude that it isn’t a magic bullet, but that’s not quite the same as a failure. I tease my plan to introduce two dozen more or less unthinkable retaliatory responses the U.S. could deploy if and when it decides to get more serious about deterring adversarial cyber operations.

We quickly cover three new hacks that once looked as though they might be government sponsored. Now it looks as though two were less strategic than that. The denial of service attack on newspaper printing may have been a profit-motivated ransomware attack, and the guy who doxxed the German political establishment may have been a lone hacker (hopefully not one weighing 400 pounds or we’ll never hear the end of it).

We quickly review the bidding on the U.S.-China “quantum arms race,” which may be a bit less critical than the press suggests.

David and Nate also review the mixed bag of rulings on three motions to suppress in Hal Martin’s NSA theft case, which just gets weirder and weirder. David and I are in surprising agreement (along with the judge) that the FBI overreached in using handcuffs, a flashbang and a SWAT team to conduct “noncustodial” questioning of Martin.

Today’s forecast: Windy with a high probability of litigation as Los Angeles sues The Weather Company for collecting and sharing location information in its apps. We suspect that, in claiming a lack of adequate disclosure about location collection, Los Angeles is relying on the ancient legal maxim, “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

In other litigation news, Illinois’s biometric privacy law continues to encounter judicial skepticism. But the Illinois state courts, unburdened by federal standing law, may yet give teeth to this seriously dumb law as Rosenbach v. Six Flags lives on in the Illinois Supreme Court.

In Quick Hits, I am intrigued by the idea that a clever generative adversarial AI “cheated” at a mapping task. In fact, the lesson is both less exciting and more troubling: If you don’t understand how your AI is accomplishing the task you’ve set for it, you need to expect some rude surprises.

Despite all the talk of stasis and crisis in Washington, Congress is still passing modestly useful legislation on cyber issues. Nate describes the SECURE Technology Act, which sets vulnerability disclosure policy and calls for bug bounties at DHS.

And, finally, I recommend a fascinating and deeply ambivalating report on the many ways third-party sellers game Amazon’s Marketplace rules.

 

Download the 245th Episode (mp3).

 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

 

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-245.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:56am EDT

On December 17th, Alan Cohn hosted the 244th episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast. We took a deep dive into all things blockchain and cryptocurrency, discussing recent regulatory developments and projections for 2019.

Our episode begins with Alan welcoming Will Turner to Steptoe’s Corporate and Blockchain Practice. Turner joins the firm’s Chicago office as partner, bringing with him with more than two decades of experience in corporate and securities law, primarily with application to cryptocurrency, fund formation, investment transactions and mergers and acquisitions. Turner also handles matters involving capitalizations, project finance, restructurings and joint ventures. Will Turner explains why the crypto market became bear in 2018, associating this development with the increase in mergers and acquisitions activity in the crypto market. Moving into 2019, Will projects the “hot items” will be anti-money laundering and securities compliance. In addition, Will presents a more general overview of how the blockchain industry is no different from other industries.

Evan Abrams discusses the joint statement issued by the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the National Credit Union Administration urging use of technology to bolster anti-money laundering compliance. Abrams states that banks can and should be engaging with the industry and the importance of striking a balance between technology and privacy. Abrams also discusses the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctions compliance risks for cryptocurrency companies. In 2019, Abrams projects increased attention on digital counterparts as blockchain-related financial institutions continue to grow. Evan Abrams also highlights the New York Department of Financial Services recent announcement authorizing Signature Bank, a New York State-chartered bank, to offer a digital payment platform called Signet that leverages blockchain technology.

Finally, Josh Oppenheimer covers recent LabCFTC updates from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). On November 27, 2018, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s LabCFTC FinTech initiative released A Primer On Smart Contracts. This is the first time since 2017 that the CFTC opined on issues relating to blockchain. The agency released its first primer on virtual currencies on October 17, 2017. Oppenheimer also discusses the pledge the G20 nations made earlier this month regarding their commitment to regulate crypto-assets to further a resilient and open global financial system. In so doing, they agreed to follow standards set forth by the Financial Action Task Force, or FATF. Oppenheimer notes this is significant because FATF, as the global standard setter, has insight into different regulatory approaches and constantly receives input from industry stakeholders. Lastly, Oppenheimer talks about how Ohio is set to become the first state in the country to accept tax payments using cryptocurrency.

For the interview portion of our podcast, Alan welcomes back Gary Goldsholle, who joins the firm as partner, after serving nearly four years as deputy director and senior adviser of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Trading and Markets. Goldsholle brings more than two decades of experience as an executive in the federal government and securities self-regulatory organizations. Goldsholle is working with Steptoe’s Financial Services, Public Policy, and Blockchain and Cryptocurrency practices. Goldsholle discusses the Securities and Exchange Commission’s noteworthy announcement, just days before Thanksgiving, with significant implications for the network marketing industry regarding regulatory oversight and enforcement of cryptocurrency companies. In its Public Statement, the SEC referred to two recent enforcement actions against Paragon Coin, Inc. and CarrierEQ, Inc. (dba Airfox). Both companies sold tokens that the SEC determined to be unregistered securities. Goldsholle also provided insight into EtherDelta, the SEC order concerning trading Ether against other ERC-20 tokens. Moving into 2019, Goldsholle hopes the SEC will define and issue guidance on what the industry calls “utility tokens” and “consumption tokens.” He projects that a custody failure, or similarly significant event, will spur deeper discussion on the issue of taking custody of crypto-assets and promote guidance in the custody space.

 

Download the 244th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

 

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-244.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:27pm EDT

In the News Roundup, Nick Weaver and I offer very different assessments of Australia’s controversial encryption bill. Nick’s side of the argument is bolstered by Denise Howell, the original legal podcaster, with 445 weekly episodes of This Week in Law to her credit.

Later in the program, I interview Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), who’s a force for cybersecurity both on the Homeland Security Committee and on the Armed Services subcommittee that oversees Cyber Command and DARPA—a subcommittee that insiders expect him to be chairing in the next Congress.

Turning back to news, the Marriott hack, already one of the biggest in history, has developed a new and more interesting angle, Gus Hurwitz explains. It may have been a Chinese intelligence operation.

The Khashoggi killing has backfired on… Israeli and Italian state hacking companies? Yes, indeed. Hacking Team and NSO are now immersed in legal hot water. And as a sign of how much the Middle East has changed, Nate Jones tells us that a Saudi dissident is now waging lawfare in Tel Aviv.

We touch on what the detention in Canada of Huawei’s CFO means for U.S.-China technology relations as well as on a new DOD report on the risks of EMP. Nick explains why he doesn’t worry about EMP but nonetheless loves the EMP alarmists.

 

Download the 243rd Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-243.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:34am EDT

This episode features an interview with Michael Tiffany, the co-founder and president of White Ops and a deep student of how to curtail adtech fraud. Michael explains the adtech business, how fraudsters take advantage of its structure, and what a coalition of law enforcement and tech companies did to wreck one of the most successful fraud networks, known as 3ve. You can read more about the take down in the joint White Ops and Google report, “The Hunt for 3ve.”

In the news, David Kris covers the Supreme Court argument in the Apple antitrust standing case. At stake: whether Illinois Brick should apply outside a brick-and-mortar context. Our panel guesses that it won’t.

You knew this was coming: Megan Reiss covers U.S. proposals to screen Chinese students for espionage risk before giving them visas. We think it’s a good idea, but really wish there were a way to score every student in China for how compliant they are with government wishes…oh, wait

Nobody trolls like the Russians troll. David Kris covers a Russian trollsuit claiming that Facebook has unfairly censored Russian speech. Showing that they know their opponents’ weakness, the suit includes broad hints that censoring Russians is … racist. Maury Shenk covers the bookend—Russian government threats to sue Google for not complying with Russian censorship demands. And I suggest that Putin’s Data Protection law will be just that—a law to protect Putin’s data. Speaking of privacy law always protecting the powerful, Michael Tiffany offers several reasons why GDPR has been good for Google and Facebook ad market share and bad for European competitors. It’s the tragedy of EU mercantilism: always aiming at the United States and usually hitting itself in the foot.

Another day, another Iranian hacking/ransomware indictment. What’s different about this one, Megan tells us, is that it includes a Treasury order freezing the bitcoin the Iranians collected. That’s a potentially new and powerful law enforcement tool. With only a little cajoling, David Kris acknowledges that this is one Trump administration initiative that is both novel and a good idea.

Wrapping up, David Kris ponders the surprisingly straightforward Fourth Amendment issues raised when the police have to stop an autonomous-mode Tesla going 70 on the 101 with a passed out “driver.” And Megan and I ponder the difficulty posed for social media by the “yellow-vest” riots in Paris. Which model applies: Arab Spring or Russian interference? You know what the Macron administration will say. Buckle up, Big Tech. To paraphrase Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, with great power comes utter confusion.

 

Download the 242nd Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-242.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:18am EDT

I propose this episode’s title as Baker’s Law of Evil Technology, something that explains Twitter’s dysfunctional woke-ness, Yahoo’s crappy security and Uber’s deadly autonomous vehicles. Companies with lots of revenue can afford to offer a lot of stuff they don’t much care about, including protection of minority voices; security; and, um, not killing people. But as Uber’s travails show, all that can get tossed out the window when corporate survival is at stake. And here’s Baker’s Law in action: Airline algorithms that deliberately break up families sitting on the plane so they can charge to put the kids back in the same row.

I do a mini-interview of Adam Candeub, who has disclosed that the supposedly populist, supposedly Silicon Valley-skeptical Trump Administration has written a massive and antidemocratic subsidy for conservative-censoring social platforms into NAFTA 2.0. I rant (briefly) about it and pray that Congress kills it in the lame duck.

Merrick Garland may now be available. But, we ask Jamil Jaffer and Gus Hurwitz, is a Facebook Supreme Content Court a good idea?

Speaking of Facebook, even the 98-lb weaklings seem to be kicking sand in the company’s face. I lay out the latest, incredible tale about how an app that finds all your friends’ bikini pics ended up spurring an international breach of U.S. confidentiality orders—at the order of the UK Parliament’s sergeant at arms. And when I say incredible, I mean it; the story told by the participants is extraordinarily hard to believe.

Jamil and Gus note that Commerce has begun identifying an enormous list of “emerging” technologies to be restricted for export. Is this defense-industrial policy? And will it work? The panel disagrees.

Paul Rosenzweig reports that Airbnb now has its own (woker-than-thou, naturally) foreign policy. He thinks it may violate a host of state anti-BDS laws.

Nick Weaver gives us the latest Bear Facts. Both Cozy and Fancy are back with a vengeance—and not much concern about avoiding attribution.

Download the 241st Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! 

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

 

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-241.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:02am EDT

Mieke Eoyang joins us for the interview about Third Way’s “To Catch a Hacker” report. We agree on the importance of what I call “attribution and retribution” as a way to improve cybersecurity. But we disagree on some of the details. Mieke reveals that this report is the first in a series that will hopefully address my concerns about a lack of detail and innovation in the report’s policy prescriptions.

Russia’s lawyers are almost as good as its hackers, to judge by a “letter” the Russian government sent in the DNC’s hacking case against Putin’s intelligence agents. Matthew Heiman and I conclude that the DNC is going to face an uphill fight trying to overcome Russia’s sovereign immunity arguments.

It’s not cybersecurity, but it is cyberhygiene. Never do a global “find and replace” on a sensitive court filing without making sure the “replace” part actually worked. That seems to be the failure that disclosed to the world that the U.S. has filed criminal charges against Julian Assange under seal. Maury Shenk comments.

“As an additional service to Alexa users, we will protect the privacy of anyone who murders you.” Okay, that’s an unfair summary of Amazon’s position on whether to release Echo recordings in a double murder case. In fact, it’s not the least surprising that Amazon wants a court order before handing over the recordings, if any, or that it got one, or that it seems to have complied promptly.

Dr. Megan Reiss explains the significance, if any, of the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, where more than 50 states and companies—the United States not among them—have signed onto a mostly Mom-and-apple-pie agreement on cyber principles.

Soft power update: Chinese-style social credit is coming to a Venezuela near you. Megan comments.

Sweet justice: California SWATter has pleaded guilty and now faces 20+ years in prison.

Looks like DHS finally made it, so I can stop talking about Congress approving the renaming of NPPD as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

And for the lightning round, Matthew confirms that remotely wiping your iPhone constitutes destruction of evidence; I note that Phineas Finn has officially gotten away with the doxing of Hacking Team; and Megan comments on yet another diversion of Western traffic through Russia and China. This time, though, we may have to blame the Nigerians

Download the 240th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-240.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT

This week’s interview is a deep (and long—over an hour) dive into new investment review regulations for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). It’s excerpted from an ABA panel discussion on the topic, featuring: Tom Feddo, who currently oversees CFIUS; Aimen Mir, who used to oversee CFIUS; Sanchi Jayaram, who is in charge of the Justice Department’s CFIUS and Team Telecom work; David Fagan, a noted CFIUS practitioner; and me as moderator. It turns out the new CFIUS law may be the most innovative—and sweeping—piece of legislation on national security in years.  

In the news, it’s time for a Cyberlaw Podcast victory lap, as our bold election-eve prediction that foreign governments would not successfully hack the election seems to hold up well, despite laughable Internet Research Agency claims in a new meta-trolling propaganda campaign.

I note that challenges to FISA are increasing as it starts to play a role in more criminal cases. I ask David Kris whether Bob Mueller took unwise risks with intelligence equities when he charged a Russian company with criminal election trolling, since that company is now seeking discovery of intelligence intercepts.

Dr. Megan Reiss notes that China is making what might be called great strides in “gait recognition” software to supplement face recognition, taking what looks like a global lead in the technology. This reminds me that fifteen years ago, when DARPA was researching gait recognition for terrorist identification, the left/lib NGOs got Congress to kill funding by lampooning what they called “a Monty Python-esque ‘Ministry of Silly Walks.’” Not so funny now, is it guys? Especially in light of evidence that China is exporting its cyber surveillance tech to Africa.

How does China do it? According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, with plenty of help from the universities of the English-speaking world. Apparently the People’s Liberation Army has been sending its scientists to the West under light cover to study cutting edge defense tech.

Nate Jones and I examine the latest chapters in the now-encyclopedic tale of Silicon Valley v. Conservatives. We take a look at a Trump immigration campaign ad that Facebook and broadcast media (Fox included) refused to run. Gab is back, but just by the skin of its teeth. Meanwhile, the pitchforks and torches are being mustered for LinkedIn, which apparently hasn’t been sufficiently cowed by lefty censors. And Facebook’s effort to suppress Alex Jones’s InfoWars site is running into trouble.

Megan and I talk about the prospect that Iran is getting ready to launch cyberattacks on the US and Israel.

Nate covers the collapse of IronChat security as Dutch police managed to decrypt 258,000 messages in the app. Maybe spurred by my taunting, Edward Snowden denies that he ever endorsed the product, notwithstanding the claim on IronChat’s website. My tweet on same: “Hey, @Snowden, IronChat sold secure phones at exorbitant prices because of your endorsement.”

Pakistan says “almost all” its banks have been hacked.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if North Korea was buying nuclear and missile technology from Pakistan with money stolen from Pakistani banks? 

Download the 239th Episode (mp3).

 You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-239.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:56pm EDT

This episode puts our experts on the spot with an election-eve question: Will foreign governments attack US electoral rolls or vote-counting machinery in 2018? Remarkably, no one on our panel (Matthew Heiman, Nick Weaver, David Kris, and I) thinks they will. So if you want cybersecurity news, you can stop listening to election coverage and tune in to Episode 238 of The Cyberlaw Podcast.

Our interview features Steve Rice (Deputy CIO for DHS) and Max Everett (CIO for the Department of Energy) and was originally taped at a session of the Homeland Security Week conference.

In the news, Nick evaluates the report that China hijacked the Border Gateway Protocol; he thinks we need more data. David agrees with me that one way to get the data would be a Justice Department subpoena.

Matthew Heiman explains why SCOTUS is skeptical of Google’s cy pres settlement that treated 129 million class members like bystanders at someone else’s party – and why that skepticism may not appear in US Reports any time soon.

Nick and David lay out the painful story of how failures in CIA communications with their assets may have severely compromised HUMINT operations in Iran and China.

Matthew and I talk about the string of right-wing killers in the past few weeks and the tech implications, including the defenestration of Gab and a lot of throat-clearing about amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Matthew also explains, then casts doubt on, a Florida Appeals Court decision that rejects the “foregone conclusion” doctrine for compelled passcode disclosure.

After all the Internet-enabled vibrator stories we’ve covered on the podcast, I think we’re obliged by gender equity to cover this effort to use artificial intelligence to improve male sex toys. For those who may face confirmation before the Senate Judiciary Committee any time in the next decade, Nick explains that Markov chain techniques have nothing to do with the Devil’s Triangle.

More hostilities in the US-China Cool War: DOJ has indicted a Chinese-state owned company as well as UMC and three individuals for stealing trade secrets from US companies; and in a coordinated move, the Department of Commerce has placed limits on US businesses interacting with the Chinese company. I wonder whether the Cool War between China and the US is increasingly forcing big foreign tech companies to choose between the two as they develop new technology.

 

 

Download the 238th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-238.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:07pm EDT

The theme of this week’s podcast seems to be the remarkable reach of American soft power: Really, we elect Donald Trump, and suddenly everybody’s trolling. The Justice Department criminally charges a Russian troll factory’s accountant, and before David Kris can finish explaining it, she’s on YouTube, trolling the prosecutors with a housewife schtick. She’s not alone. Faced with the news that President Trump is using a commercial iPhone for many of his calls—and, Nate Jones points out, getting tapped by China, Russia, and others as a result—China has a suggestion that scores at the top of the POTUS Troll Scale. Tim Cook goes to Europe to troll Android—and me—with a speech that touches all my buttons: Europhilia, Apple sanctimony in pursuit of profit and blind enthusiasm for privacy regulation. And when the Belgians ask for British help investigating a suspected GCHQ hack of a Belgian ISP, as David and I discuss, the British respond with what can only be described as understated trolling.

This week’s interview is with Dr. Dipayan Ghosh, Pozen Fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center and co-author of a new report, “Digital Deceit II: A Policy Agenda to Fight Disinformation on the Internet.” I find it an interesting mix of good insights and warmed-over Obama-era nostrums (Carly Rae Jepsen makes a brief appearance). Dipayan and I tangle on privacy but struggle toward common ground on the question of limiting the power of the Big Platforms. He’s open-minded and flexible about the details of the proposal, so for fans of civil policy debate (especially those worried about where the platforms’ dominance and ad revenue are taking us), this episode is a keeper.

Why would a Russian technical institute design malware used in an effort to sabotage a major petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia? Nate Jones lays out the story. Originally suspected of being an Iranian operation, the attack may have originated in Iran, but FireEye persuasively links the underlying (and flawed) malware to Moscow. One possibility is that it’s a Russian false flag job, minus the embarrassing GRU operatives’ Uber receipts. My guess, though, is that the Russian institute is just amortizing malware development costs by selling off exploits developed for the GRU. If so, this may turn out to be another slow motion disaster for the thugs in the Aquarium.

In other news, Yahoo settled a class action over the enormous breach affecting 200 million people and three billion accounts. The price of that settlement? After the lawyers have been paid, the $50 million settlement will work out to about 25 cents per victim. Seems pretty cheap to me.

For a brief moment, reality has descended on the left coast. It looks like California isn’t eager for a judicial ruling on its campaign to nullify federal net neutrality law.

In the UK, Facebook is fined the maximum under pre-GDPR law, for what the privacy agency calls a failure to protect personal data from Cambridge Analytica—but what I suspect is the unspeakable crime of not having prevented the election of Donald Trump. And now that GDPR is in effect, the bien pensants of Europe have served notice; failure to prevent the president’s re-election will cost Silicon Valley billions.

Finally, what goes around comes around for the Uber “bounty” hackers. David and I think that pretty much answers the question whether they were just confused bounty hunters or extortionists with a clever line of patter.

 

Download the 237th Episode (mp3).

 

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-237.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:02pm EDT

In this episode’s interview we ask whether the midterm elections are likely to suffer as much foreign hacking and interference as we saw in 2016. The answer, from Christopher Krebs, Under Secretary for National Protection and Programs Directorate (soon to be the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), is surprisingly comforting, though hardly guaranteed. Briefly, it’s beginning to look as though the Russians (and maybe the Iranians) are holding their fire for the main event in 2020.

In the News Roundup, Maury Shenk highlights the role of Twitter, trolls and Saudi royals in the Khashoggi killing. He also explains the apparently ridiculous result in the EU Android competition matter. It may be a case of Google giving the EU what it asked for – good and hard.

Terry Albury certainly got it good and hard from a federal judge. He was sentenced to four years in prison for leaking classified documents to The Intercept. Jamil Jaffer explains why Albury’s claim of being a whistleblower didn’t win him much relief. I suggest that the only people who read Intercept articles to the end are federal agents trying to find clues to the leakers’ identities; whatever they’re doing, it’s working.

Maury and I marvel over the flood of venture capital money into China—and a potential ebb tide for Chinese money in Silicon Valley.

Jamil explains the latest SEC report flagging the cost of email fraud; nine firms lost $100 million to cyberfraud. And to add insult to injury, the SEC hints broadly that future victims may be tagged for violating SEC accounting standards, which should be sufficient to prevent such fraud.

I point to the ABA’s recent ethics opinion mandating breach disclosure to clients – and quite a bit more. Maury instructs me on the question of whether putting names on doorbells violates GDPR. Vienna says yes; Germany, no. Maury is sure the Germans have this right.

Finally, I update listeners on the Equifax data breach engineer who figured out that his company must have been breached and traded on his suspicion. In an act of relative mercy for the clueless engineer, he was fined and sentenced to eight months of home confinement.

 

Download the 236th Episode (mp3).

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As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-236.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:09am EDT

Today we interview Doug, the chief legal officer of GCHQ, the British equivalent of NSA. It’s the first time we’ve interviewed someone whose full identify is classified. Out of millions of possible pseudonyms, he’s sticking with “Doug.” Listen in as he explains why. More seriously, Doug covers the now-considerable oversight regime that governs GCHQ’s intercepts and other intelligence collection, Britain’s view of how the law of war applies in cyberspace, the prospects for UN talks on that topic, the value of attribution, and whether a national security agency should be responsible for civilian cybersecurity (the UK says yes, the U.S. says no).

In the news, Nick Weaver and Matthew Heiman comment on the ongoing controversy surrounding Bloomberg Businessweek’s Chinese supply-chain-attack story.

Matthew tells us that Treasury has announced its CFIUS pilot program, which will require the filing of notices for Chinese acquisitions in 27 critical industries. I argue that a predisposed bureaucracy has made President Trump a transformational president in terms of relations with China.

Speaking of bureaucratic predispositions, DOJ is showing enthusiasm in carrying out its predisposition to haul Chinese spies into court. What’s remarkable is that it was able to do that from across the Atlantic. While not a cyberspy, the recent arrest and extradition of an accused Chinese economic spy is easy to read as DOJ's answer to those who say indictments of government spies are a sign of weakness.

Everybody’s going to have to choose sides as Trump and Xi continue on their collision course. Except Google. At least according to Google, which bailed out of a Pentagon program because it didn’t meet Google’s values. Oh, and because Google had no chance of winning the contract. Talk about virtue signaling on the cheap!

The EU’s virtue signaling isn’t nearly as cheap, at least for Google, which is now appealing a massive EU competition fine. I can’t help wondering who the hell uses Google Shopping searches; the EU fine must be $1 billion for every biased search.

Nick reports on two troubling government reports. He believes one — the cybersecurity of DOD weapons systems really is a problem. He’s less impressed by White House concerns about the health of the defense industrial base, having recently done some “Buy America” electronics procurement himself.

Finally, Vietnam will force local data storage over Silicon Valley’s protests. Nick, Matthew and I explore the continuing delusion of U.S. foreign policymakers in insisting that the Internet must be borderless and open and free. 

Download the 235th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-235.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01am EDT

Bloomberg Businessweek’s claim that the Chinese bugged Supermicro motherboards leads off our News Roundup. The story is controversial not because it couldn’t happen and not because the Chinese wouldn’t do it but because the story has been denied by practically everyone close to the controversy, including DHS. Bloomberg Businessweek stands by the story. Maybe it’s time for the law, in the form of a libel action, to ride to the rescue.

Congress, astonishingly, has been doing things other than watch the Kavanaugh hearings. It produced a conferenced version of the FAA authorization including authority for DHS and DOJ to intercept drone communications and seize drones without notice or a warrant. This effort to get in front of dangerous technology yields the usual whines from the usual Luddite “technology advocates.” Meantime, Congress has also adopted a bill to change the name of DHS’s cyber and infrastructure security agency to, well, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

ZTE’s troubles continue, as a federal judge slammed the company for violating the terms of its probation. The judge extended ZTE’s probationary term and the term of its monitor – meaning the company now has two US monitors watching as it tries to rebuild its business.

The Trump Administration is following in the Obama Administration’s footsteps, Gus Hurwitz reports, trying to build consensus around norms for cyber conflict. I remain dubious, but at least this effort is limited to countries not actively engaged in cyber hostilities with the United States.  

California has its own air pollution standards; why not its own net neutrality law? Probably because the FCC under Ajit Pai is not the EPA. Gus and I discuss whether any part of California’s law can withstand preemption.

The hits just keep on coming for the GRU, a formerly vaunted Russian intelligence service, which now can’t even keep secret the names of its most secret agents. Bellingcat, a private website, totally pantses the agency, outing not just its nerve agent operatives but 300 others for good measure.  Piling on, the Justice Department indicts another batch of GRU operatives for hacking sports anti-doping authorities. Even Germany musters the courage to join the UK in fingering Russia for its cyberattacks while the mighty Dutch counter-hacking team joins in the sack dance.

Is the Turing test easier if you only have to convince Californians that you’re human? That may be the theory behind California’s SB 1001, making it unlawful for a bot to deceive a Californian about its botitude “in order to incentivize a purchase or sale of goods or services in a commercial transaction or to influence a vote in an election.”

More bad news for Justice in Silicon Valley, according to leaks from a court case in which the Department is rumored to have sought a court order forcing Facebook to cooperate in a wiretap of MS-13 members.  

Finally, Dr. Megan Reiss reports, North Korea is apparently getting rich robbing banks. Surprisingly, though, it seems not to be robbing American banks. Yet. 

 

Download the 234th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-234.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:31pm EDT

In this news-only episode, Nick Weaver and I muse over the outing of a GRU colonel for the nerve agent killings in the United Kingdom. I ask the question that is surely being debated inside MI6 today: Now that he’s been identified, should British intelligence make it their business to execute Col. Chepiga?

On a lighter note, Uber is paying $148 million to state AGs for a data breach that apparently had no consequences and might not even have been a breach.

About a year too late for Congressional action, a consensus of sorts is emerging among Republicans that Silicon Valley needs broad privacy regulation. The Trump Administration is asking for comment on data privacy principles. And tech giants are pushing lawmakers for federal privacy rules. But the catalyst is an increasing need for federal preemption in the face of California’s new law, and the Dems who are expected to take the House will be hard to sell on preemption. So despite the emerging consensus, a log jam that lasts years could still be in our future.

The sentencing of an NSA employee for taking sensitive tools home – and getting them compromised by Kaspersky – leaves Nick with plenty of additional questions about the source of the tools compromised by Russian proxies in recent years.

Evan Abrams gives us a summary of the NY AG’s report on virtual markets and cryptocurrency. Bottom line: New York is likely to pursue regulation with vigor.

Meanwhile, West Virginia embraces a mobile voting app for the 2018 election. Remarkably, despite the deployment of blockchain buzzwords, none of us thinks the system is secure.

And in quick hits:

  • The GRU is taking the “P” in APT way too seriously.
  • A content moderator has sued Facebook, claiming that her job gave her PTSD.
  • India’s Supreme Court has upheld, with limits, the government’s massive Aadhaar digital ID program.
  • Facebook suffered a breach affecting 50 million user accounts and probably 40 million “log on with Facebook” accounts. We’re getting these facts piecemeal thanks to the EU’s dumb 72-hour deadline for reporting breaches under GDPR.
  • President Trump says China is interfering in the 2018 elections. But unlike Russia in 2016, all of China’s fake news is on actual newsprint.
  • Finally, a quick report roundup:

Download the 233rd Episode (mp3).

 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

 

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-233.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:15pm EDT

Our guest is Peter W. Singer, co-author with Emerson T. Brooking of LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media. Peter’s book is a fine history of the way the Internet went wrong in the Age of Social Media. He thinks we’re losing the Like Wars, and I tend to agree. It’s a deep conversation that turns contentious when we come to his prescriptions, which I see as reinstating the lefty elite that ran journalism for decades, this time empowered by even less self-doubt – and AI that can reproduce its prejudices at scale and without transparency.

In the News Roundup, Dr. Megan Reiss and Peter Singer join me in commenting on the White House and DOD cyber strategies. Bottom line: better than last time, plenty more room to improve.

“God Bless the Dutch.” They’ve pwned Putin’s GRU again. In a truly multinational caper, as Nick Weaver explains, Dutch intel caught Russian spies planning cyberattacks on the Swiss institute investigating Russia’s nerve agent attack in Britain.

The downside of sanctions. China has joined with Russia in protesting sanctions on Russian weapons sellers that spilled over to the Chinese military. Maury Shenk and I worry about the risk that overuse of sanctions will create a powerful alliance of countries determined to neutralize the sanctions weapon.

Is it reckless to speculate that the gas fires in Massachusetts could be a cyberattack? I think it’s a fair question, to which we may not have the answer. Nick Weaver (mostly) persuades me I’m wrong.

Amazon finds itself in the sights of the European Commission over its dual role in hosting third party sellers. Maury explains why.

Putin’s enemies list, or a part of it, is disclosed when Google warns Senate staffers that their Gmail has been attacked. Maury and I congratulate Steptoe alum Robert Zarate for making the cut. Looks like the Mirai botnet kids will be sentenced to help the FBI on cyber investigations. And Megan sees the hand of Robert Zarate – now officially the Zelig of cyber conflict – in Marco Rubio’s letter to Apple asking why it was so slow to stop an app from sending American user data to China.

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-232.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:33am EDT

Our interview this week is with Hon. Michael Chertoff, my former boss at Homeland Security and newly minted author of Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age. The conversation – and the book – is wide ranging and shows how much his views on privacy, data, and government have evolved in the decade since he left government. He’s a little friendlier to European notions of data protection, a little more cautious about government authority to access data, and even a bit more open to the idea of letting the victims of cyberattacks leave their networks to find their attackers (under government supervision, that is). It’s a thoughtful, practical meditation on where the digital revolution is taking us and how we should try to steer it.

The News Roundup features Paul Rosenzweig, Matthew Heiman, and Gus Hurwitz – whom we congratulate for his move to tenured status at Nebraska. We all marvel at Europe’s misplaced enthusiasm for regulating the Internet. This fall the Europeans returned from their August vacation to embrace a boatload of gobsmackingly unrealistic tech mandates – so unrealistic that you might almost think they’re designed to allow the endless imposition of crippling fines on Silicon Valley.

In the last week or so, European institutions have pretty much shot the regulatory moon: Matthew sets out the European Parliament’s expensive and wrongheaded copyright rules. Paul covers the European Commission’s proposal that social media take down all terror-inciting speech within one hour, on pain of massive fines. Gus discusses the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that GCHQ’s bulk data collection practices fail to meet human rights standards, though they can be fixed without dumping bulk collection. And I marvel that France is urging the European Court of Justice, which needs little encouragement to indulge its anti-Americanism, to impose Europe’s “right to be forgotten” censorship regime on Americans and on other users around the world. That’s a position so extreme that it was even opposed by the European Commission. Gus explains.

In other news, Paul outlines the National Academy of Sciences’ report, offering a sensible set of security measures for American voting systems. We all unpack the new California IoT security bill, which is now on the governor’s desk. I predict that, flawed though it is, ten more state legislatures could adopt the bill in the next year.

This Week in Social Media Bias: Paul tells us that Twitter has found a deep well of hate speech in … the United States Code. I tell the ambiguous story of offering up my Facebook account to verify claims of social media censorship.  And Gus reports that the Left has discovered a problem with fact checking for social media posts; to their surprise, it doesn’t always work in their favor.

In closing, we quickly touch on the meltdown of the world’s biggest identity database and The Intercept’s endlessly tendentious article trying to make a scandal out of IBM’s face recognition software, which can apparently search footage by skin color.

Download the 231st Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-231.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:07pm EDT

We are fully back from our August hiatus, and leading off a series of great interviews, I talk with Bruce Schneier about his new book, Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-Connected World. Bruce is an internationally renowned technologist, privacy and security commentator, and someone I respect a lot more than I agree with. But his latest book opens new common ground between us, and we both foresee a darker future for a world that has digitally connected things that can kill people without figuring out a way to secure them. Breaking with Silicon Valley consensus, we see security regulation in the Valley’s future, despite all the well-known downsides that regulation will bring. We also find plenty of room for disagreement on topics like encryption policy and attribution.

In the News Roundup, I ask Jamil Jaffer, Nate Jones, and David Kris for the stories that people who took August off should go back and read. Jamil nominates the fascinating-as-a-slow-motion-car-wreck story of Maersk’s losing battle with NotPetya. We speculate on whether the Russians caused $10 billion in worldwide damage by mistake or on purpose, and whether anyone other than a US government lawyer would call that indiscriminate attack a war crime.

David nominates the 179-page complaint against a North Korean hacker behind most of that country’s famous hacks. And, as a palate cleanser, the remarkable, score-settling, where-are-they-now story of the companies that challenged the FBI’s attribution of the Sony hack to North Korea.

Finally, I suggest spending some time with what might be called DCLeaks for good guys: Intrusion Truth, a website devoted to outing personal details about the government hackers who have been attacking Western companies. It (and Crowdstrike) provides an old-fashioned pantsing of China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) – the sort of embarrassing doxing that allowed the MSS to take over much of China’s cyberespionage portfolio from the hapless People’s Liberation Army after it was outed several years ago.

In other news, a Five Country Ministerial (homeland security and immigration ministers from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) issued a statement on encryption that seemed to threaten action, saying that if tech companies don’t address the ministers’ concerns, “we may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions.” While this group isn’t really the “Five Eyes” of SIGINT fame, that’s not very comforting for Big Tech, since the statement suggests a wider coalition and another step forward in the effort to bring Big Tech to heel on the issue.

Download the 230th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-230.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:05pm EDT

On September 4th, Alan Cohn hosted the 229th episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast. We took a deep dive into all things blockchain and cryptocurrency discussing recent regulatory developments and best practices for users of exchanges.

Our episode begins by looking at the landmark decision coming out of the New York Eastern District Court in favor of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Charles Mills provides an overview of the recent New York federal court decision and CFTC victory against Cabbage Tech, Corp. d/b/a Coin Drop Markets and Patrick K. McDonnell of Staten Island, New York, ordering McDonnell to pay over $1.1 million in civil monetary penalties and restitution in connection with a lawsuit brought by the CFTC alleging fraud in connection with virtual currencies, including Bitcoin and Litecoin. In addition, Charles presents a more general overview of CFTC regulations.

Claire Blakey presents a timeline of the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) recent actions regarding ETFs. On August 23, 2018, SEC announced that it would reconsider a decision to reject nine Bitcoin-based exchange traded funds. Earlier this month, SEC staff delayed a decision on the SolidX proposal, stating it needs more time to consider the proposal – the deadline for this decision is September 30, 2018. Claire also discusses CBOE’s filing with SEC for a bitcoin ETF.

Evan Abrams highlights the four takeaways from the Department of Treasury’s Financial Enforcement Network (FinCEN) director’s speech on cryptocurrency. On August 9, 2018, FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco delivered a speech on the agency’s approach to cryptocurrency where he made a few unexpected remarks. Evan states that this speech offered helpful clarifications and insights, but also left a number of important questions unanswered. In addition, Evan discusses the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s proposed charter for online lenders and other FinTech companies in the coming months.

Finally, Maury Shenk covers the recent reports about the EU finance ministers’ plan to discuss the possibility of cryptocurrency regulation at a meeting in early September. As part of a leaked confidential note, it is expected that EU ministers will discuss anti-money laundering issues amongst other things. Alan and Maury note that while the EU takes a heavier regulatory approach than the US in this area, the process is slow moving but steadily developing. In addition, Maury discusses the European Blockchain Partnership, describing it as an integrated effort for a great blockchain future.

In our interview, the Steptoe team was joined by Sarah Compani, Legal Counsel at Bitfinex. Bitfinex is a full-featured spot trading platform for major digital assets and cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many more. Bitfinex offers leveraged margin trading through a peer-to-peer funding market, allowing users to securely trade with up to 3.3-times leverage. Sarah took us through the best security practices for users of exchanges, particularly focusing on security settings that users can customize, such as Google Authenticator 2FA, Universal 2nd Factor (U2F), and IP address whitelisting. Finally, Sarah provides listeners with three takeaways as she responds to Alan’s questions regarding the future of exchanges, the Bitfinex platform, and potential challenges going forward.

Download the 229th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-229.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

We’re still on hiatus, but we’re back again this week with another bonus episode. Our next season will feature an interview with Bruce Schneier, cryptography, computer science, and privacy guru, about his latest book, Click Here to Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World. So it only seems appropriate to revisit my May 2015 interview with Bruce about his earlier work, the best-selling Data and Goliath – a book I annotated every few pages of with the words, “Bruce, you can’t possibly really believe this.” And that’s pretty much how the interview goes, as Bruce and I mix it up over hackbacks, whether everyone but government should be allowed to use Big Data tools, Edward Snowden, whether “mass surveillance” has value in fighting terrorism, and whether damaging cyberattacks are really infrequent and hard to attribute. We disagree mightily – and with civility.

 

We’ll be back in September with another edition of Blockchain Takes Over the Cyberlaw Podcast, followed by the new interview with Bruce Schneier.

 

Download the Bonus Episode (mp3).

 

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

 

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-65-Rerun.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:07pm EDT

We’re officially on hiatus this month, but we just couldn’t stay away that long. If you can’t live without The Cyberlaw Podcast in your life, then you’re in luck. We’re releasing a couple bonus episodes with some of my favorite past interviews.

This week I revisit my April 2015 interview with Joseph Nye, former dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard and three-time national security official for State, Defense, and the National Intelligence Council. We get a magisterial overview of the challenge posed by cyberweapons, how they resemble and differ from nuclear weapons, and (in passing) some tips on how to do cross-country skiing in the White Mountains.

We’ll be back in September with another edition of Blockchain Takes Over the Cyberlaw Podcast. I’ll return the following week with an interview with Bruce Schneier, so be sure to tune in.

Download the Bonus Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

 

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-61-Rerun.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:35pm EDT

Our guest for the interview is Noah Phillips, recently appointed FTC Commissioner and former colleague of Stewart Baker at Steptoe. Noah fields questions about the European Union, privacy, and LabMD, about whether Silicon Valley suppression of conservative speech should be a competition law issue, about how foreign governments’ abuse of merger approvals can be disciplined, and much more.

The imminent passage of the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act yields a deep dive on the bill. Most important for business lawyers, the bill will include a transformative rewrite of CFIUS’s investment-review procedures and policies.

Gus Hurwitz lays out many of the cyber issues addressed by the NDAA, while Dr. Megan Reiss explains the act’s creation of a “Solarium” commission designed to force serious strategic thinking about cybersecurity and cyberweapons. I offer my contribution to that debate—an effort to think the unthinkable and come up with tougher options for responding to serious cyberattacks. Since we’re trying to think the unthinkable, I argue, we’re really rooting for the itheberg, so I’ve dubbed it the Itheberg Project. (There must be a Robert Frost reference in there somewhere—about the world ending in solarium or in ithe—but I can’t find it.) I do, however, make an unusual double-barreled offer to those who might want to participate in the Itheberg Project.

 

All that pales next to a surprisingly lively discussion of circuits splitting over insurance coverage of cyber-related fraud losses. Gus and Matthew Heiman predict that the Supreme Court (or an insurance contract rewrite) will be necessary to resolve the issue – and both of them think the issue is well worth the Court’s time. No one tell Judge Kavanaugh or he may just decide to stay on the DC Circuit!

In a “lightning” round that the FTC may soon investigate for deceptive labeling:

Download the 228th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Pocket Casts, Google Play, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with Stewart on social media: @stewartbaker on Twitter and on LinkedIn. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

 

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-228.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:45am EDT

In our 227th episode of The Cyberlaw Podcast, Stewart Baker interviews Bobby Chesney (@BobbyChesney), who recently co-authored a paper with Danielle Citron (@DanielleCitron) titled, “Deep Fakes: A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy, and National Security.” Stewart and Bobby are joined by Maury Shenk, Nick Weaver (@ncweaver), and Patt Cannaday to discuss:

  • Is the EU’s $5 billion fine on Google a bad idea grounded in anti-Americanism? President Trump seems to think so;
  • The DOJ cyber digital report (PDF) sets sensible new standards for avoiding partisanship while naming foreign states trying to influence US opinion – but if DOJ gives Big Tech special access to intelligence, will Big Tech use the intel in a nonpartisan way?
  • Recent speculative execution attacks on Intel and ARM processors (Spectre et al.);
  • Overdoing it wrong? Senate doesn’t just cave on ZTE penalties for violating export control law – it also caves on US supply chain worries;
  • The FISA document dump on Carter Page – sure, it undercuts Devin Nunes, but what are the ramifications for FISA applications that rely heavily on news media articles?
  • All 50 states have taken federal funds (PDF) to improve election cybersecurity – now it’s up to them to deliver a secure election in November;
  • EU and Japan agree on mutual adequacy findings allowing personal data transfers – but will the findings meet the European Court of Justice’s absurdly solipsistic requirements?

You can also find Bobby Chesney on the National Security Law Podcast(@NSLpodcast), which he co-hosts with Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck). If you want to learn more about deep fakes, check out the Heritage Foundation’s recent discussion in which Bobby participated.

Download the 227th Episode (mp3).

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785. Remember: If your suggested interviewee appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

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

Direct download: TheCyberlawPodcast-227.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:08pm EDT