The Cyberlaw Podcast: The (Almost) COVID-19-Free Episode

Stewart Baker
Monday, March 16, 2020, 6:13 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

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

Stewart A. Baker is a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP. He returned to the firm following 3½ years at the Department of Homeland Security as its first Assistant Secretary for Policy. He earlier served as general counsel of the National Security Agency.

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