Episodes
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....
Published 07/28/20
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...
Published 07/21/20
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...
Published 07/14/20
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...
Published 07/09/20
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...
Published 07/01/20
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...
Published 06/23/20
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...
Published 06/16/20
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...
Published 06/09/20
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...
Published 06/02/20
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...
Published 05/27/20
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...
Published 05/19/20
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...
Published 05/11/20
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...
Published 05/05/20
Published 04/28/20
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...
Published 04/21/20
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...
Published 04/14/20
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....
Published 04/07/20
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...
Published 04/03/20
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...
Published 03/30/20
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...
Published 03/23/20
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...
Published 03/16/20
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...
Published 03/11/20
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...
Published 03/09/20
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: ...
Published 03/06/20