The Cyberlaw Podcast: GDPR and the Typhoid Marys of the Internet

Stewart Baker
Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 11:32 AM

GDPR has finally arrived, Maury Shenk reminds us, bringing both expected and unexpected consequences.

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GDPR has finally arrived, Maury Shenk reminds us, bringing both expected and unexpected consequences. Among the expected: New Schrems lawsuits for more money from the same old defendants; and the wasting away of the cybersecurity resource that is the WHOIS database, as German courts ride to the rescue of insecurity—in the name of privacy.

Also probably to be expected, at least for those who have paid attention to the history of technology regulation: The biggest companies are likely to end up boosting their market dominance.

Less expected: The decision of some big U.S. media to just say no to European readers, recognizing them as the Typhoid Marys of the internet, carrying a painful and stupid regulatory infection to every site they visit.

In other unsurprising news, Gus Hurwitz and Megan Reiss note, Kaspersky has now lost both its lawsuits against U.S. government bans in a single district court ruling.

In genuinely troubling news, Iran is signaling a willingness to attack U.S. industrial controls, which run the electric grid and pipelines and sewage systems, using the same malware it used against the Saudis. Since Iran was willing to launch DDoS attacks on U.S. banks the last time negotiations over its nuclear program hit a snag, this is a threat that needs to be taken seriously.

The good news is that the U.S. government released two reports this week on how to we’ll respond to both threats—cyberattacks on our grid and to DDoS attacks on our web companies. The bad news is that both reports suck. If you were feeling optimistic before this, I argue, a close reading of the reports will leave you with a sinking feeling that this is the fourth administration in a row without a clue about how to deal with such attacks.

Quick Hits

Russia wants Apple’s help in subduing Telegram, Maury reports. I predict that Tim Cook will fold like a cheap lawn chair. I’m guessing that it’s really only American law enforcement that he’s willing to thwart.

North Korea is getting credit for peacemaking while spreading malware to U.S. infrastructure. A lot of the attacks are enabled by phishing emails with news about the Trump-Kim summit. Which, come to think of it, may be the real reason Kim keeps turning the summit off and on: He’s got to generate clickbait for all those phishing emails.

Trump wants to relieve ZTE of its company-killing Commerce sanctions, but Congress may not let him. Hardest hit? Paul Ryan, who’ll have to decide whether to let the House take a free vote to thwart the President on national security grounds. At least that’s my quick assessment.

Gus takes us quickly through the next big security issue: IMSI catchers and SS7 exploitation. This is a big problem, or really two big problems, that is bound to get real media attention—just as soon as civil liberties groups figure out how to blame it on Trump.

In other news, I’ll be hosting a Reddit AMA on r/legaladvice on June 6 starting at 2 p.m. EST. The best questions may be read in the next episode, so be sure to contribute. You can find more information in the announcement here.

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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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