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VOLOKH CONSPIRACY

Mostly law professors, blogging on whatever we please since 2002 · Hosted by The Washington Post, 2014-2017 · Hosted by Reason 2017 · Sometimes contrarian · Often libertarian · Always independent

Privacy zealots undermine security. Again.

Episode 213 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

In a news-only episode, we get a cook's tour of the RSA conference from attendees Paul Rosenzweig, Jim Lewis, and Stewart Baker. Instead of spending a week at RSA, you can listen to us talk for five minutes about the top trends we saw at RSA: more nations attacking cybersecurity firms over attribution, more companies defending themselves outside their own networks (aka hackback), and growing (if still modest) respect for DHS's role in cybersecurity. Oh, and Microsoft's Digital Geneva Convention is still a mashup of profound naïveté and deep cynicism, but Microsoft's Cyber Tech Accord may do better – at least until the FTC gets hold of it.

In other news, ZTE is being hammered for showing contempt for US export control enforcement. But the back-splatter on US suppliers will be severe as well. The United States is picking a big, big fight with China on the future of technology, and it's going to need a strategy.

Speaking of fights, Telegram is in a doozy with Russia over its refusal to supply crypto keys to the government. It looks as though Telegram's use of Google and other domains as proxies ("domain fronting") is making it hard for Russia to work its will without harming other internet companies. So far, Russia seems willing to do just that, but the game isn't over yet.

In what may be related news, Google is engineering domain fronting out of its products. The press's whining about the civil liberties implications of Google's moves triggers a classic Baker rant about how privacy zealots don't really care about security – since they're trying to preserve domain fronting despite its role in defeating network security and facilitating crime.

And while my rant is rolling, why not include the EU's shameful drive-by execution of the WHOIS database. I call on the Obama NTIA officials who killed off our last leverage over ICANN to apologize to Ted Cruz for the debacle. Don't hold your breath.

Maury Shenk lays out the remarkable parallelism between the US CLOUD Act and a new EU regulation on cross-border data sharing for law enforcement. This foretells a big change for internet companies.

Finally, or nearly so, Paul unpacks the way in which liability for the SWIFT hacks may drive cybersecurity standards for banks.

And in closing, I note that China is now the clear leader in face recognition, having found a single suspect in a crowd of 60,000 concertgoers using the technique. It's the leader not because of China's technical strength, though that's impressive, but because of Silicon Valley's politically correct refusal to develop such tools. Remember that stance when law enforcement agencies end up buying Chinese face recognition tech and then pay the cybersecurity price.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is hiring a part-time intern for our Washington, DC offices. If you are interested, click here.

And if you're wondering what happened to episode 212, I was at RSA and missed it, but the writeup is here.

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  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Privacy zealots undermine security. Again.

    This headline revives a question: Why did an ostensibly libertarian website provide a platform for a relatively standard issue right-wing blog?

    (Preliminary observations indicate most or all of the genuine libertarians may have been driven from this website, leaving a readership dominated by stale-thinking, intolerant, authoritarian, disaffected right-wingers, the audience the Volokh Conspiracy cultivates.)

  • Eidde||

    You're in the audience, aren't you?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I'm libertarianish, not libertarian.

    Also, my lack of affinity for right-wing authoritarianism and standard issue Republican intolerance distinguishes me from the average reason.com or Volokh Conspiracy reader.

    Thanks for asking.

  • Eidde||

    But what do you think about goober colleges which have loyalty oaths and teach superstition?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    People should be free to attend or operate schools that teach nonsense, forbid academic freedom, impose censorship, collect loyalty oaths, suppress science, enforce conduct codes, and the like.

    Decent, sensible, educated people should avoid those schools, belittle them, and prefer and support strong educational institutions that operate in the liberal-libertarian tradition.

    What do you think about this?

  • Eidde||

    I think it's almost embarrassing how easy it is for me to troll you.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Stewart Baker isn't right wing, he's just a straight statist. Left, right, Democrat, Republican don't matter one bit to him.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Stewart Baker isn't right wing, he's just a straight statist. Left, right, Democrat, Republican don't matter one bit to him.

  • Harry M Johnston||

    I'm provisionally in favour of Google's move, but how the heck did you get from "people trying to fight against state censorship" to "privacy zealots"? They're not even on the same side of the political divide - free speech is mostly a right-wing concern nowadays, and privacy a left-wing one.

  • Harry M Johnston||

    Also: I'm not in a position to listen to the podcast itself just now and the writeup leaves it a bit ambiguous - should I assume that Mr. Baker also objects to the privacy zealots at Telegram refusing to hand over their keys to whatever governments may ask for them?

  • Purple Martin||

    Cyberlaw Podcast Title is "Privacy zealots undermine security. Again." Again.

    You may want to try something different...the sometimes obsession of this blog with 'Privacy Zealots' (broadly, anyone who thinks an approach qualitatively different from strict Libertarianism may have some arguments in favor) gets a little old.

  • NToJ||

    There's nothing libertarian about the privacy zealot arguments. Stewart Baker is a standard law-and-order cheerleader.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    It's always a bad sign when you can tell who wrote a post after reading the first two words of the headline...

  • apedad||

    **chuckle**

  • PublicNameNotInUse||

    While I get your point, the first two words on my RSS feed headline are "Stewart Baker". Mind you, it's also a bad sign when you can write the rest of the headline as well as the general gist of the article, just by reading the author name.

  • bernard11||

    privacy zealots don't really care about security

    Absolutely. And not only that. Bill of Rights "zealots" don't care about preventing crime, or capturing and punishing criminals.

  • PublicNameNotInUse||

    They don't. Otherwise they'd realize that the justice department literally never accuses, much less convicts, someone incorrectly.

  • NToJ||

    "...but because of Silicon Valley's politically correct refusal to develop such tools."

    Surely Stewart Baker has much to tell Silicon Valley about what is or is not a good use of their resources.

  • regexp||

    tl;dr GET OFF MY LAWN

    (Bakers comments are just too ludicrous to take seriously)

  • Jeff Walden||

    "China is now the clear leader in face recognition, having found a single suspect in a crowd of 60,000 concertgoers using the technique. It's the leader...because of Silicon Valley's politically correct refusal to develop such tools. "

    Ye gods. Do you have even the slightest bit of imagination necessary to imagine that China is going to use these tools to stifle dissent, punish freedom of assembly, and crush any threats to its leadership? I mean, I guess the answer must be no because you've been doing this for years, but, just, wow.

    I tend more to the privacy/security side as a policy matter, but I'm very interested in hearing intelligent arguments for the other side, because it is security and safety we're talking about (at least in some cases). There's probably something to learn, if I listen to a coherent statement of the other side's opinions and (especially) facts. Baker is not that, or at least almost never has been. Rather, it's the worst sort of knee-jerk assumption that privacy is always just a bad-faith dodge. There's surely a better argument for the security state than this -- wish I ever saw it here. :-(

  • BigHands||

    "And in closing, I note that China is now the clear leader in face recognition, having found a single suspect in a crowd of 60,000 concertgoers using the technique. It's the leader not because of China's technical strength, though that's impressive, but because of Silicon Valley's politically correct refusal to develop such tools. Remember that stance when law enforcement agencies end up buying Chinese face recognition tech and then pay the cybersecurity price."

    "Mr. President, we must not allow a face recognition gap!"

  • Sarcastr0||

    Noice.

  • apedad||

    "It's the leader not because of China's technical strength, though that's impressive, but because of Silicon Valley's politically correct refusal to develop such tools."

    Cons must be blowing a gasket over this issue.

    On one hand, they want to be strong on law enforcement.

    On the other hand, they don't want Big Brother watching everyone everywhere.

    Or course, consistency in values/policies hasn't been a strong conservative standard lately (limited budgets, family-values [you know, that Trump stuff], etc.).

  • PublicNameNotInUse||

    Mr. Baker- put your money where your mouth is. You freely advocate that privacy undermines security. Post your SSN and bank account information. Openly. On this blog. Show me how undermining privacy increases your security.

  • GabrielSyme||

    Also let us know the last time you had intercourse, and what products you used during this. I intend to use this information to target advertisements at you, not to blackmail or publicly embarrass you or anything like that, so that makes sharing such information perfectly safe to share.

  • Rossami||

    An equally valid headline would be "Security zealots undermine privacy - again".

    Baker continues to show his absolute cluelessness about why some of us actually value privacy. The fact that civil rights and constitutional protections hamstring the security apparatchik is a feature, not a bug.

  • Frog Legs||

    The complaints about facial recognition is just plain silly. The worry isn't private firms deploying facial recognition technology; it's the government using it. While private firms might use the chinese technology the government will not due to the security risks. Baker isn't mad that we'll use Chinese tech, he's mad that the government won't be able to use it. Strange to see an author on Reason extoll the virtues of a totalitarian surveillance state, but I appreciate that Volokh has a wide range of writers on the blog.

  • Morrowind542||

    Honestly, Stuart Baker's presence on this blog is stain on its existence. Not because he opposes privacy, or any libertarian positions really, but because he is intellectually dishonest and seems completely unable to create arguments without completely misrepresenting the other sides position.

    I don't always agree with the writers on this site. I especially disagree with Orin Kerr about how constitutional rights should apply to encryption. However, I almost always enjoy reading these posts because they are based on well reasoned arguments that are both intellectually honest and internally consistent. Stuart Baker's post are none of these.

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