National Bloviation Strategy

Episode 256 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

I know. The title could be talking about pretty much any national strategy written in the last 15 years. And that's the point. In the interview, Dr. Amy Zegart and I discuss the national cyber strategy and what's wrong with it, besides all the bloviating. We also explore the culture clash between DOD and Silicon Valley (especially Google), and whether the right response to the Mueller report would be to conduct a thorough investigation into how the Intelligence Community and Justice handled the collusion allegations at the start of the Trump Administration. As a bonus, Amy answers this burning question: "If a banana republic is a country where losing an election means getting criminally investigated, what do you call a country where winning an election means getting criminally investigated?"

In the news roundup, we talk about the New Zealand massacre and whether six months from now it will feel as though we overreacted to distribution of the video of the attack. Along the way, we are amazed to discover that New Zealand actually still has a "Chief Censor."

If you thought the Boeing 737MAX approval cast the FAA in a bad light, there's some good news for that embattled agency: The FDA is even worse at dealing with software risks. Matthew Heiman and I talk about the agency's unimpressive handling of a flaw that would let hackers control defibrillators implanted in patients.

Conservatives v. Silicon Valley. Apparently looking for Odd Couple of the Month coverage, Sen. Josh Hawley is sounding all Sen. Elizabeth Warren-y about Facebook and Silicon Valley. And Devin Nunes is renewing claims of social media bias against conservatives. Indeed, he's putting his lawyers where his mouth is, suing Twitter and his fake Twitter Mom for defamation. It's an uphill battle, but I would really love to read the internal Twitter emails about Nunes if his case gets to discovery. That's his best chance to show actual malice.

Matthew tells us that the latest European fine of $1.7 billion means that Google has been hit with $7.6 billion in EU fines since 2017 – mostly for "in the eye of the beholder" abuses of a dominant position.

Jennifer Quinn-Barabanov makes a guest appearance to read the tea leaves in the SCOTUS remand of a cy pres case without decision. Bottom line: The Court is likely to cut back on cy pres settlements, which may be good policy, but which also means trouble for defendants as well as the plaintiffs' bar.

Matthew and I talk about the most fun caper involving North Korea in the last fifty years (since most of the other capers seemed to end in people dying). This time, the good guys got away after physically pwning the entire North Korean embassy in Spain. Spanish papers claim it was the CIA, but that's what Spanish papers would say, isn't it? This time, though, I'd like to think it's true.

Maury Shenk explains why US chip makers don't actually want massive new guaranteed orders as part of a China trade deal.

And Matthew tells us how Egypt is taking advantage of the cover provided by Australia and New Zealand to tighten control of websites and social media accounts that pose a "threat to national security."

Download the 256th Episode (mp3).

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  1. “If a banana republic is a country where losing an election means getting criminally investigated, what do you call a country where winning an election means getting criminally investigated?”

    What a stupid, or at best, misleading question.

    What country are you speaking of where winning itself gets you criminally investigated? Maybe we have countries like our that investigate when evidence of crimes are actually committed., regardless of who won

    That would be a good system,

    1. All evidence indicates Trump was going to be investigated whether or not he won. Since the investigation started while he was a candidate.

      There are some indication that investigations were started on every Republican candidate.

      And there’s this thing about investigations into peoples campaigns and companies. If you think someone is trying to infiltrate them for nefarious purposes- YOU TELL THEM! Odd, isn’t it, that candidate Trump was never told- “We think there are Russian agents trying to infiltrate your campaign.” In fact, it looks like the FBI was attempting to entrap people surrounding Trump. That’s not an investigation…

      But all this was known to anyone paying attention at the start of this fiasco.

  2. Why are you surprised that New Zealand has a chief censor? I’m not. It’s well known that the United States is the only country that actually has free speech, though HR1 in the House is another Democrat attempt to curtail that right.

    Our Constitution doesn’t allow for any government censorship or regulation of speech. Journalists aren’t licensed. Bloggers can blog freely. Newspapers can publish whatever they want. Anyone can print flyers and hand them out freely on the street. You can stand on a street corner and denounce the President- or any politician. You can throw your middle finger in a rude gesture to the police, brought up here just the other day.

    Other countries SAY they have free speech. But except- you can’t engage in hate speech. Which they define. And truth isn’t a defense against libel or slander. Especially against a politician! And daring to tell the truth about islamic immigrants and crimes- verboten in Germany and Denmark. Mein Kampf can’t be sold in Germany. But yeah, except for those and a hundred or more other exceptions, they all have free speech.

  3. I’m as big a defender of free speech as anyone else – but I don’t get the criticism of other countries.

    Every country has its unique history which they have to address – and some things were so atrocious that perhaps limiting free speech is appropriate (like Mein Kampf in Germany).

    Also, free speech isn’t as “free” here in the US as you think.

    You can walk down a street in Germany and pass an adult store, and they have nudity displayed in the windows – try finding that in the US anywhere.

    FCC, limits on media ownership in cities, etc.

    We also have plenty of self-censorship.

    When the local 70s/80s rock station here in the DC area plays the Eagles’ Life in the Fast Lane, they play, “We’ve been up and down this highway, haven’t seen a (goddamn) thing,” they’ve removed the word goddamn, ’cause, you know, snowflakes.

    1. Some defenders of free speech believe that government censorship of speech (absent some other crime being committed through speech like fraud or a ransom note, etc.) is objectively wrong, regardless of a country’s history.

      Much the same way murder, rape, and slavery are wrong regardless of a country’s particular history or culture.

      As far as the FCC is concerned, I think it should be abolished. America could certainly be freer than it is, but on net I think we do a better job than any other country when it comes to legal free speech.

      New Zealand should absolutely be criticized for having a Chief Censor.

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