The Cyberlaw Podcast: Silicon Valley Speech Suppression Is Going To The Supreme Court

Stewart Baker
Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 1:28 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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At least that’s the lesson that Paul Rosenzweig and I distill from the recent 11th Circuit decision mostly striking down Florida’s law regulating social media platforms’ content “moderation” rules. We disagree flamboyantly on pretty much everything else—including whether the court will intervene before judgment in a pending 5th Circuit case where the appeals court stayed a district court’s injunction and allowed Texas’s similar law to remain in effect.  

When it comes to content moderation, Silicon Valley is a lot tougher on the Libs of TikTok than the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Instagram just suspended the Libs of Tiktok account, I report, while a recent Brookings study shows that the Chinese government’s narratives are polluting Google and Bing search results on a regular basis. Google News and YouTube do the worst job of keeping the party line out of searches. Both Google News and YouTube return CCP-influenced links on the first page about a quarter of the time.              

I ask Sultan Meghji to shed some light on the remarkable TerraUSD cryptocurrency crash. Which leads us, not surprisingly, from massive investor losses to whether financial regulators have jurisdiction over cryptocurrency. The short answer: Whether they have jurisdiction or not, all the incentives favor an assertion of jurisdiction. Nick Weaver is with us in spirit as we flag his rip-roaring attack on the whole fiel—a don’t-miss interview for readers who can’t get enough of Nick. 

It’s a big episode for artificial intelligence (AI) news too. Matthew Heiman contrasts the different approaches to AI regulation in three big jurisdictions. China’s is pretty focused, Europe’s is ambitious and all-pervading, and the United States isn’t ready to do anything. 

Paul thinks DuckDuckGo should be DuckDuckGone after the search engine allowed Microsoft trackers to follow users of its browser. 

Sultan and I explore ways of biasing AI algorithms. It turns out that saving money on datasets makes the algorithm especially sensitive to the order in which the data is presented. Debiasing with synthetic data has its own risks, Sultan avers. But if you’re looking for good news, here’s some: Self-driving car companies who are late to the party are likely to catch up fast, because they can build on a lot of data that’s already been collected as well as new training techniques.

Matthew breaks down the $150 million fine paid by Twitter for allowing ad targeting of the phone numbers its users supplied for two-factor authentication (2FA) security purposes.

Finally, in quick hits:

Download the 409th 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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