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What to do about China?

Episode 207 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

Our interview this week is with Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department's Counterterrorism Coordinator. We cover a Trump administration diplomatic achievement in the field of technology and terrorism that has been surprisingly undercovered (or maybe it's not surprising at all, depending on how cynical you are about press coverage of the Trump administration). We also explore new terrorism technology challenges and opportunities in social media, State's role in designating terrorists, the difference a decade can make in tech and terror policy, and how the Ambassador lost his cowboy boots.

In the news roundup, China seems to be hiding behind half our stories this week. Brian Egan and I sift through the entrails of CFIUS's pronouncements on the Qualcomm/Broadcom takeover fight charts, where Chinese competition in 5G is an ever-present subtext.

More broadly, we point to a flood of stories suggesting that the US government is just beginning to struggle with the challenge posed by an economically strong adversary nation. These include accusations of "weaponized capital," naïve and compromised US academic institutions, and what amounts to a Chinese intelligence-industrial-unicorn complex.

The SEC says digital coin exchanges may be unlawful; bitcoin takes a market hit. But Matthew Heiman, in his first appearance on the podcast, expresses some doubt about the SEC's authority over many of the businesses the agency called out.

If the SEC wants something else to worry about, maybe it should be paying more attention to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), where techno-privacy zealots are getting ready to cripple the ability of business enterprises to secure their networks and comply with employee monitoring requirements. Living down to my rock-bottom view of privacy campaigners, the IETF seems to be saying that in order to signal their virtue on privacy issues, they are happy to sacrifice our security – and compliance with law.

Part of the problem may be a lack of technically sophisticated staffers in government; Matthew and Jamil Jaffer chew over the cyber staffing crisis in government, and what can be done about it.

Finally, Jamil and Matthew comment on FBI director Wray's statement that the FBI is not looking to blow a regulatory whistle on data-breached companies that ask for the Bureau's help.

As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is hiring a part-time intern for our Washington, DC offices. If you are interested, visit our website at Steptoe.com/careers.

Download the 207th Episode (mp3).

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  • BillyG||

    If the SEC wants something else to worry about, maybe it should be paying more attention to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), where techno-privacy zealots are getting ready to cripple the ability of business enterprises to secure their networks and comply with employee monitoring requirements. Living down to my rock-bottom view of privacy campaigners, the IETF seems to be saying that in order to signal their virtue on privacy issues, they are happy to sacrifice our security – and compliance with law.

    That isn't what it says at all. The IETF doesn't want to build in an easy way for someone else to come along and decrypt the data that was previously transfered. As someone who has to secure networks and data, that is a benefit to me. Security and compliance with the law are not on the same side here, they're on opposite sides. That said, there's still methods the banks can use with the new updates to comply with the law. They just can't be lazy about it as they have been in the past.

  • Harry M Johnston||

    Yes, there does seem to be a bit of tension in this post between, on the one hand, worrying about China, and on the other, wanting to make sure China will be able to intercept everyone's communications world-wide.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    China is not building those man-made islands in the South China Sea for nothing.

  • Sarcastr0||

    the IETF seems to be saying that in order to signal their virtue on privacy issues, they are happy to sacrifice our security – and compliance with law

    Welp, I guess virtue signaling has just become a meaningless epithet now.

  • bernard11||

    Virtue signaling was always a meaningless epithet.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I believe it once had meaning. Like social justice warrior once referred to this little subgroup on Tumblr. But it was too politically evocative to keep to a limited definition for long.

    As the right looks for more ways to generalize liberalisms' legitimacy away, seizing on 'a meaningless gesture even you don't believe in' and making it mean 'liberals doing a liberal thing' was inevitable.

  • bernard11||

    Having trouble staffing, are we?

    What a surprise. One of our major parties thinks all government employees are lazy, incompetent time-servers, and would go apoplectic if technically skilled people were paid what they can make in the private sector.

    Who wants to be underpaid and not just unappreciated but vilified by the people they work for?

  • BillyG||

    Right on. The AFL-CIO has always been against anyone making more than their GS equivalent and the major party is in bed with the AFL-CIO. Those technically skilled people would be making more than a GS15 in the private sector but only be payed as much as a GS9 in the public sector due to the AFL-CIO complaints. Of course, then they'd also be "1 percenters" as the Democrats like to call them, so taxed even more.

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