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The Lawfare Podcast: Shannon Togawa Mercer on Negotiating with the Bad Guys

Benjamin Wittes, Shannon Togawa Mercer
Friday, March 29, 2024, 8:00 AM
Is it legal to negotiate with and pay off foreign ransomware gangs?

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Shannon Togawa Mercer served as Lawfare's Managing Editor and then went on to quite a career shift. She now negotiates with ransomware bad actors. She is a cybersecurity and privacy lawyer at WilmerHale and has developed a specialized practice in responding to cybersecurity incidents, many of them involving foreign malware gangs.  

She joined Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes to talk about this odd area of legal practice. Why do you need a big law firm when your computer files are suddenly frozen? Is it legal to negotiate with and pay off foreign ransomware gangs? How do you do the negotiations anyway? Do they cut you a deal if you're polite? And what is it like to be recruited by the malware gangs that you are negotiating with? 

Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.
Shannon Togawa Mercer is a senior associate at WilmerHale. Her practice focuses on complex global data protection, privacy, and cybersecurity matters. Ms. Togawa Mercer has extensive experience counseling clients on cross border data protection and privacy compliance as well as cyber incident response. She has practiced in London and Washington D.C. and previously served as Managing Editor and Senior Editor at Lawfare. Ms. Togawa Mercer also served as National Security and Law associate at the Hoover Institution.

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