The Cyberlaw Podcast: Face Poisoning

Stewart Baker
Tuesday, July 28, 2020, 12:02 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

In our 326th episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast, Stewart Baker interviews Lauren Willard, who serves as Counselor to the Attorney General. Stewart is also joined by 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, Counselor 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!

Download the 326th Episode (mp3)

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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.

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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