Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast: An Interview with Robin Weisman and Peter Van Valkenburgh

Stewart Baker
Thursday, March 17, 2016, 1:41 PM

Alan Cohn and Jason Weinstein talk to Robin Weisman and Peter Van Valkenburgh from the Coin Center.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Doing our best to avoid turning this into the Applelaw podcast, episode 105 begins with Maury Shenk unpacking the new US-EU Privacy Shield details.  His take: more hassles for companies accused of noncompliance, more detailed privacy disclosures and compliance obligations for most members, and a modicum of pain for the intelligence community, but it’s still basically the same framework as the Safe Harbor.

Plenty of news from the FTC, as we ask how embarrassed the Commission should be now that one of its “common sense” security requirements has been discredited by its own chief technologist; we also ponder one Commissioner’s decision to weigh in on encryption regulation, and the Commission’s foray into security for the Internet of Things. 

Michael Vatis tells us the significance of the CFPB’s first data security enforcement order and the FCC’s new privacy rules for Internet providers.  Maury brings us mixed news on data protection skirmishes in Germany.  Hamburg’s biggest privacy hot dog looks more like chopped liver after a court ruling undercuts its jurisdictional claims, but Facebook’s “like” button may require its own “I consent” button. 

Finally, we return to the Apple-FBI case, submerge under a flood of amicus briefs, gauge the level of anger in the US government’s brief, and brace for the hearing on March 22.  In other news, I explain what Doris Day can teach us about Tim Cook, and Apple lawyers respond to concerns that China induced Apple to install probably-backdoored encryption algorithms in Chinese iPhones.  Relax, Apple’s lawyers have told journalists, the decision to install secret Chinese government crypto “was a trade issue, not a security issue.”  Well, whew!  No worries then.

In the interview, Alan Cohn and Jason Weinstein talk to Robin Weisman and Peter Van Valkenburgh from the Coin Center.  Robin and Peter explain Coin Center’s ongoing work to educate policy makers about digital currencies and blockchain technology, and they correct two of the most common misconceptions about bitcoin – that it’s anonymous and that it’s unregulated.  They also discuss other possible applications for blockchain technology and help us make sense of the debate about private blockchains vs. the bitcoin blockchain. 

As always, the Cyberlaw Podcast welcomes feedback.  Send an e-mail to or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785. 

Download the 105th episode (mp3). 

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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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