The Cyberlaw Podcast: Is This Podcast Sentient?

Stewart Baker
Wednesday, June 22, 2022, 10:06 AM

The latest epsiode of the Cyberlaw Podcast. 

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

This episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast begins by digging into a bill more likely to transform tech regulation than most of the proposals you’ve actually heard of—a bipartisan effort to repeat U.S. Senator John Cornyn’s bipartisan success in transforming the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) four years ago. The new bill holds a mirror up to CFIUS, Matthew Heiman reports. Where CFIUS regulates inward investment from adversary nation, the new proposal will regulate outward investment—from the U.S. to adversary nations. The goal is to slow the transfer of technical expertise (and capital) from the U.S. to China. It is opposed by the Chinese government and the same U.S. business alliance that angered Senator Cornyn in 2018. If it passes, I predict, it will be as part of must-pass legislation and will be a big surprise to most technology observers.

The cryptocurrency world might as well make Leslie Gore its official chanteuse, because everyone is crying at the end of the crypto party. Well, except for Nick Weaver, who does a Grand Tour of all the overleveraged cryptocurrency firms on or over the verge of collapse as bitcoin values drop to $20 thousand and below.               

Scott Shapiro and I trade views on the spate of claims that Microsoft is downgrading security in its products. It would unfortunately make sense for Microsoft to strip-mine value from its standalone proprietary software by stinting on security, we think, but we can’t explain why it would neglect cloud security as it is increasingly accused of doing.              

That brings us to NickTalk about TikTok, and a behind-the-scenes look at what has happened to the TikTok-CFIUS case in the years since former President Donald Trump left the stage. Turns out that CFIUS has been doggedly pursuing pieces of the deal that were still on the table in 2020: localization in the U.S. for U.S. user data and no Chinese access to the data. The first is moving forward, Nick tells us; the second is turning out to be a morass.

Speaking of localization, India’s determination to localize credit card data has been rewarded. Matthew reports that cutting off new credit card customers did the trick: Mastercard has localized its data, and India has lifted the ban.

Scott reports on Japan’s latest contribution to the techlash: a law that makes 'online insults' a crime.

Scott also reports on a modest bright spot in NSO Group’s litigation with Facebook: The Supreme Court answered the company’s plea, calling on the U.S. government to comment on whether NSO could claim sovereign immunity for the hacking tools it sells to government. Nick puts his grave dancing shoes back on to report the bad news for NSO: the Biden administration is trashing a rumored acquisition by U.S. - based L3Harris Technologies

Scott makes short work of the idea that a Google AI chatbot has achieved sentience. Of course, as a trained philosopher, Scott seems a little reluctant to concede that I’ve achieved sentience. We do agree that it’s a hell of a good chatbot.

And in quick hits, I note the appointment of April Doss as General Counsel for the National Security Agency Counsel after a long series of acting General Counsels.

Download the 413th 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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