The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Volokh Conspiracy

Keeper—Loser, Weeper

Episode 210 of the Cyberlaw Podcast


In the news roundup, Nick Weaver, Ben Wittes, and I talk about the mild reheating of the encryption debate, sparked not just by renewed FBI pleading but by the collapse of the left-lib claim that building law enforcement access into IT devices is impossible because, uh, math. The National Academy report on encryption access has demonstrated that access is well within the zone of plausible technology policy, with support from a group of prominent tech experts, such as Ray Ozzie, all of whom know math.

Speaking of law enforcement, it was a good week for cybercrime enforcement. Nick and I touch on two victories for the good guys, with the Carbanak mastermind busted in Spain and Yevgeny Nikulin extradited to the US over Russian objections.

Meanwhile, DHS is moving forward on one of the more significant new efforts to control terrorist travel across borders—using social media data. The agency will be requiring social media names (but not passwords) from visa applicants, according to a proposed rule now gathering comments. Maury Shenk, Ben, Nick, and I talk about the privacy and first amendment issues implicated by the proposal. We don't agree on most of those issues.

But we find surprising unanimity in mocking Julian Assange for deservedly losing his internet access at the Ecuador embassy. The panel even endorses Matt Green's wicked suggestion for trolling Assange from the sidewalk outside Assange's Ecuadoran squat.

We close the news with a quick sack dance over the prone form of Keeper Security, which has dropped its libel suit against Dan Goodin and Ars Technica, probably because it was going to lose; the defendants' coverage of Keeper's serious security problems was straight and fair. Bottom line: there are plenty of good password managers; why use one whose management sues to suppress news about its product's security holes? When that sinks in, Keeper won't just be a loser; here's hoping it will be a weeper too.

Our interview with David Sanger covers the vulnerability of the US grid, the psychic income and electoral popularity that Vladimir Putin gets from crossing the West's red lines, and whether we'd be better off sparking an escalating set of cyberattacks now, rather than later when we'll be even more vulnerable.

If the last question reminds you that John Bolton will soon be the National Security Adviser, you're not alone. We take a few minutes off from cyberlaw to explore just what kind of national security adviser Bolton will be. My bottom line: better than his reputation, and maybe much better.

As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to 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

Download the 210th Episode (mp3).

Subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also on iTunes, Pocket Casts, and Google Play (available for Android and Google Chrome)!