The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Today's episode opens with coverage of a truly disturbing bit of neocolonialist lawmaking from the Court of Justice of the European Union. The CJEU ruled that an Austrian court correctly ordered Facebook to take down statements about an Austrian politician, not just in Austria, not just in Europe, but everywhere in the world. Called an "oaf" and a "fascist," the politician more or less proved the truth of the accusations by suing to keep that and similar statements off Facebook worldwide. I suggest that the US adopt blocking legislation to protect the First Amendment from foreign government interference and argue that President Trump should support such a law. After all, if he were ever to insult a European politician on Twitter, this ruling could lead to litigation that takes his Twitter account off the air. Heading off that threat is truly a legislative and international agenda for the Age of Trump!
Nick Weaver returns to the podcast and gives the FDA a better report card than I expected on its approach to cybersecurity. But we agree that the state of medical device and implant security remains parlous.
I try my hand at explaining the DC Circuit's Net Neutrality ruling in Mozilla v. FCC. There are still some rounds to be played, but Net Neutrality, if not dead, may at least be pining for the fjords (or a Democratic administration).
We introduce a new feature: This Week in Elizabeth Warren. She has a plan to revive the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. Nick likes the idea. I'm less enthusiastic, perhaps because I actually did some work for OTA before it disappeared.
Nick also helps unpack the flap over Google's proposal to do DNS-over-HTTPS, and why ISPs aren't happy about it. Bottom line: If you haven't been paying much attention to the issue, you made the right choice. Nick explains why. Just think of how much time you saved by listening to the podcast!
Nick also explains how Uzbekistan managed to give state cyberattacks an aura, not of menace or invincibility, but of clownish incompetence.
David Kris tells us why privacy advocates and NGOs object to the French government's use of nationwide facial recognition for its ID program. If that's the best they can do, I suggest, this may be the dumbest face recognition privacy "scandal" in history.
The cops have shut down a Dark Web data center operating from… a NATO bunker? Nick reveals that the main reason to operate from a NATO bunker is, well, marketing.
Apparently channeling Stewart Baker, Attorney General Bill Barr is all-in on discouraging mass-market warrant-proof encryption. Nick thinks he's picked the wrong fight and should go after phone storage encryption instead. And maybe Nick's right, since the civil-liberties shine on Apple is looking a little scuffed these days.
David tells us that NSA has launched a new defense directorate with Anne Neuberger at its helm. I promise to interview her on the podcast early next year.
David talks about the California man charged with delivering classified information to China's Ministry of State Security. I want to know how many spies China has in the US if they can create what amounts to Uber for dead drops.
Dog bites man: Pervy Yahoo engineer pleads guilty to hacking emails for pornographic images. I'm surprised this doesn't happen every month.
And in a sign that Congress can still reach bipartisan agreement on bills that do more or less nothing, both the House and the Senate have adopted bills authorizing (but not funding) DHS "cyber hunt" teams to help local governments suffering from cyber ransom and other attacks.
Bringing back an old favorite theme, I cover the hacking of an electronic billboard to play porn – and celebrate the crowdsourcing of the facial recognition needed to identify the actresses. (At least I think it was face recognition.) Tracked down and asked for comment, one actress urged her involuntary viewers to "keep both hands on the wheel."
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The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.