Episodes
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...
Published 01/15/20
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...
Published 12/19/19
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...
Published 12/17/19
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.  ...
Published 12/10/19
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...
Published 12/06/19
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...
Published 12/04/19
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...
Published 11/26/19
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...
Published 11/20/19
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 ...
Published 11/15/19
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...
Published 11/15/19
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...
Published 11/05/19
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”...
Published 10/31/19
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...
Published 10/22/19
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...
Published 10/15/19
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...
Published 10/08/19
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...
Published 10/04/19
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...
Published 10/01/19
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...
Published 09/17/19
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...
Published 09/09/19
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...
Published 09/06/19
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...
Published 09/04/19
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,...
Published 07/30/19
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...
Published 07/23/19
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...
Published 07/16/19
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...
Published 07/09/19