The Cyberlaw Podcast: What’s the Opposite of Facial Recognition? Ask Your 'Smart Toilet.'

Stewart Baker
Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 1:33 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

The district court has ruled in the lawsuit between Epic and Apple over access to the Apple app store. Apple is claiming victory and Epic is appealing. But Apple’s victory is not complete, and may have a worm at its core. Jamil Jaffer explains.Surprised that ransomware gangs REvil and Groove are back—and thumbing their noses at President Biden? Dmitri Alperovitch isn’t. He explains why U.S. ransomware policy has failed so far.

WhatsApp has finally figured out how to let users encrypt their chat backups in the cloud, to the surprise of many users who didn’t realize their backups weren’t encrypted.

Speaking of the encryption debate, Dmitri notes that Proton Mail joined the scrum this week, in a way it no doubt regrets. After all its bragging that mail users’ privacy is “protected by Swiss law,” Proton Mail disclosed that Swiss law can be surprisingly law enforcement friendly. Responding to a French request through Europol, Swiss authorities ordered the service to collect metadata on a particular account and overrode what had been seen as a Swiss legal requirement that users be notified promptly of such actions.

Is China suffering from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) envy? I ask and David Kris answers: It sure looks that way, as China has begun trying to rally Chinese in America to support Chinese government positions on things like the origin of COVID. So far, China’s record of success is as dismal as the GRU’s but I argue that it poses a bigger problem for the body politic and Chinese American interest groups.

Who’d have guessed? Turns out that the EU’s always-flakey General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provision against allowing automated decision making that affects people isn’t just a charming nostalgia act; it’s yet another reason for Europe to be left behind in the technology race. Jamil reports on a high-powered UK task force recommendation that the Brits dump the provision in order to allow for the growth of an AI industry.

David and I debate the meaning of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro banning social networks from removing political posts.

And in a few quick hits:

  • I praise the Biden administration (faintly) for finally kicking off serious negotiations with the EU about transatlantic data transfer.
  • Dmitri dissects the undiplomatic speech of China’s ambassador to the U.S.
  • David downloads the inside poop on smart toilets. Among other things, they’ll be identifying us with, uh, let’s just call it the opposite of facial recognition.
  • And Dmitri offers a solution for the dual European Community encryption story.

And more!

Download the 374th 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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