The Cyberlaw Podcast: How Much of The Quantum Tech Boom is Just Welfare for Physicists?

Stewart Baker
Tuesday, January 25, 2022, 11:24 AM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

That’s the question I had after reading Law and Policy for the Quantum Age, by Chris Hoofnagle and Simson Garfinkel. It’s a gracefully written and deeply informative look at the commercial and policy prospects of quantum computing and several other (often more promising) quantum technologies, including sensing, communications, and networking. And it left me with the question that heads this post. So, I invited Chris Hoofnagle to an interview and came away thinking the answer is “close to half – and for sure all the quantum projects grounded in fear and envy of the presumed capabilities of the National Security Agency of the United States.” My exchange with Chris makes for a bracing and fast-paced half hour of futurology and policy and not to be missed.

Also, not to be missed: Conservative Catfight II—Now With More Cats. That’s right, Jamil Jaffer and I reprise our past debate over Big Tech regulation, this time focusing on S.2992, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, just voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a bipartisan set of supporters and detractors. In essence, the bill would impose special “no self-preferencing” obligations on really large platforms. Jamil, joined by Gus Hurwitz, thinks this is heavy handed government regulation for a few unpopular companies, and completely unmoored from any harm to consumers. Jordan Schneider weighs in to point out that it is almost exactly the solution chosen by the Chinese government in its most recent policy shift. I argue that platforms are usually procompetitive when they start but inherently open to a host of subtle abuses once entrenched, so only a specially crafted rule will prevent a handful of companies achieving enormous economic and political power.

Doubling down on controversy, I ask Nate Jones to explain Glenn Greenwald’s objections to the subpoena practices of Congress’s  Jan. 6 Committee. I conclude that the committee’s legal arguments boil down to “When Congress wrote rules for government, it clearly didn’t intend for the rules to apply to Congress.” And that Greenwald is right in arguing that the Supreme Court in the 1950s insisted that Communists be treated better than the Jan. 6 Committee is treating anyone even tangentially tied to the attack on the Capitol.

Nate and I try to figure out what Forbes was smoking when it tried to gin up a scandal from a standard set of metadata subpoenas to WhatsApp. Whatever it was, Forbes will need plenty of liquids and a few hours in a dark quiet room to recover.

In quick hits, Gus explains what it means that the Biden administration is rewriting the Department of Justice/Federal Trade Commission merger guidelines: essentially, the more the administration tries to make them mean, the less deference they’ll get in court. And Jordan and I puzzle over the emphasis on small and medium business in China’s latest five-year plan for the digital economy.

Download the 391st Episode (mp3) 

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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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