Bill Barr as Bogeyman

Episode 298 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

 Nick Weaver and I debate Sens. Graham and Blumenthal's EARN IT Act, a proposal to require that social media firms follow best practices on preventing child abuse. If they don't, they won't get full Section 230 immunity from liability for recklessly allowing the abuse. Nick thinks the idea is ill-conceived and doomed to fail. I think there's a core of sense to the proposal, which simply asks that Silicon Valley firms who are reckless about child abuse on their networks pay for the costs they're imposing on society. Since the bill gives the attorney general authority to modify the best practices submitted by a commission of industry, academic, and civic representatives, though, critics are sure that an evil bogeyman by the name of Bill Barr will effectively prohibit end-to-end encryption.

But before we get to that that debate, Gus Hurwitz and I unpack the law and tactics behind Facebook's decision to pay $550 million to settle a facial recognition class action. And Klon Kitchen and Nick ponder the shocking corruption and coverup alleged in the case of a Harvard chemistry chairman being prosecuted for hiding the large sums he was getting from the Chinese government to boost its research into nanomaterials.

Klon also gives us a feel for just how hard it can be to enforce Iranian sanctions, and the creativity that went into one Iranian app developer's evasion scheme.

Gus and Nick offer real hope that robocalling will start to get harder, and soon: DOJ has requested restraining orders to stop telcos from facilitating fraudulent robocalls; the FTC has put 19 VoIP providers on notice for facilitating robocalls; and SHAKEN/STIR is slowly making it harder to spoof a phone number.

Gus asks a question that had never occurred to me, and certainly not to millions of homeowners who may have committed inadvertent felonies by installing Ring doorbell cameras. It turns out that Ring recordings may be illegal intercepts in states with all-party consent laws. At least that's what one enterprising New Hampshire defense lawyer is arguing.

First it cocks a snook at Brussels, and now this: The UK government is really on a roll. It's proposing an IoT security law that Nick endorses with enthusiasm. Maryland, not so much: Klon critiques a proposed state law that would make ransomware illegal – and maybe ransomware research, too.

In dog-bites-man news, the United Nations has suffered a breach – probably by a semi-competent government. Which doesn't narrow things down much, since as Nick observes, everyone but the Germans has probably pwned the UN. And the Germans are just being polite.

A lot of old stories have come back for one more turn on stage: The Russian hacker that the Russian government was afraid would sing if extradited to the US has pleaded guilty and is probably singing already. Avast has killed Jumpshot, its much-criticized data collection operation. The Bezosphone Saga continues, as Sen. Chris Murphy calls on the DNI and FBI to investigate the hacking allegations, and Bezos's girlfriend's brother is suing for defamation. Charges against the Iowa courthouse pentesters have finally been dropped. LabMD's Mike Daugherty should probably hang up his cleats. He won a great victory over the FTC, but his racketeering suit against Tiversa and lawyers is officially time-barred. Finally, it turns out that the FBI has been investigating NSO Group since 2017, though without bringing charges, so far.

Download the 298th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of our institutions, clients, friends, former friends, spouses, children, or pets.

Advertisement

NEXT: House Bill To Undo State-Level 'Right To Work' Laws Is a Preview of Democrats' Post-2020 Priorities

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. When several billion around the world are living the dream of not having to merely imagine a boot stepping on their face, forever, I am bothered by the claim for government to be able to crack all encryption to solve mere normal crime, no matter how heinous.

    One official in the US said not too long ago, in reference to crime and encryption, lamenting, “If you’ve seen what I’ve seen…” Have you looked around the world where there is no secrecy from the thugocracies? All that and a thousand times more.

  2. “which simply asks that Silicon Valley firms who are reckless about child abuse on their networks”

    Evidence is lacking that any such firms exist.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.