Will European Privacy Law Protect American Child Molesters?

Episode 342 of the Cyberlaw Podcast

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Our interview is with Alex Stamos, who lays out a complex debate over child sexual abuse that's now roiling Brussels. The application of European privacy standards (and European AI hostility) to internet communications providers has called into question the one tool that has reduced online child sex predation. Scanning for sex abuse images works well, and even scanning for signs of "grooming" is surprisingly effective.  But both depend on automated monitoring of communications content, something that has apparently come as a surprise to European lawmakers hoping to impose more regulation on American tech platforms.  Left unchanged, the new European rules could make it easier to abuse kids all around the world.  Alex explains the rushed effort to head off that disaster – and tells us what Ashton Kutcher has to do with it (a lot, it turns out).

Meanwhile, in the news roundup, Michael Weiner breaks down the FTC's (and 46 states') long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Facebook. Maybe the government will come up with something as the case moves forward, but its monopolization claims don't strike me as overwhelming.  And, as Mark MacCarthy points out, the likelihood that the lawsuit will do something good on the privacy front is vanishingly small.

Russia's SVR, heir to the KGB, is making headlines with a remarkably sophisticated and well-hidden cyberespionage attack on a lot of institutions that we hoped were better at defense than they turned out to be. Nick Weaver lays out the depressing story, and Alex offers a former CISO's perspective, arguing for a federal breach notification law that goes well beyond personal data and includes after-action reports that aren't locked up in post-litigation gag orders. Jamil Jaffer tells us that won't happen in Congress any time soon.

Jamil also comments on the prospects for the National Defense Authorization Act, which is chock full of cyber provisions but struggling forward under a veto threat. If you're not watching the European Parliament tie itself in knots trying to avoid helping child predators, tune in to watch American legislators tie themselves into knots trying to pass an important defense bill without drawing the ire of the President.

The FCC, in an Ajit Pai farewell, has been hammering Chinese telecom infrastructure companies. In one week, Jamil reports, the FCC launched proceedings to kick China Telecom out of the US phone network, reaffirmed its exclusion of Huawei from the same infrastructure, and adopted a "rip and replace" mandate for US providers who still have Chinese gear  in their networks.

Nick and I clash over the latest move by Apple and Google to show their contempt for US counterterrorism efforts – the banning of a location data company whose real crime was selling the data to (gasp!) the Pentagon.

Mark explains proposals for elaborate new regulation elaborate new regulation of digital intermediaries now working their way through -- where else? – Brussels. I express some cautious interest in regulation of "gatekeeper" platforms, if only to prevent Brussels and the gatekeepers from combining to slam the Overton window on conservatives' fingers.

Mark also reports on the Trump administration's principles for U.S. government use of artificial intelligence, squelching as premature my celebration at the absence of "fairness" and "bias" cant.

Those who listen to the roundup for the porn news won't be disappointed, as Mark and I dig into the details of Pornhub's brush with cancellation at the hands of Visa and Mastercard – and how the site might overcome the attack.

In short hits, Nick and I disagree about Timnit Gebru, the "ethicist" who was let go at Google after threatening to quit and who now is crying racism. I report on the enactment of a modest but useful IoT Cybersecurity law and on the doxxing of the Chinese Communist Party membership rolls as well as the adoption of the most law-enforcement-hostile technology  yet to come out of Big Tech – Amazon's Sidewalk.

Download the 342nd Episode (mp3)

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  1. Before Congress does Facebook, could they investigate the AMA for monopoly and restraint of trade?

    1. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Anti-trust is subjective, very slow, over many years, of dubious constitutionality. Anti-trust is a lawyer, rent seeking bunko scheme. If a monopoly has raised prices, that is a great opportunity to offer lower prices in the market and to prevail. Cheaper price has always been the highway to great wealth.

    I may seek to mandamus the civil forfeiture of these tech billionaire assets. They are are our enemy, catering to the Chinese Communist Party to access its market. They own the biased media and the Democrat Party, the biggest threat to our freedoms, and to our way of life in the world. They allow billions of internet crimes on their platforms, and commit millions of crimes themselves. They inflate viewership and defraud advertisers. Many of their viewers are not people.

    Then auction off the assets of these traitors like the Ferrari of a drug dealer.

    1. You forgot anti-trust (the threat of breakup as "too large") investigations as another way to coerce the big tech giants to censor harrassment, oh, and can you start with the harrassing tweets of our political opponents.

    2. "I may seek to mandamus the civil forfeiture of these tech billionaire assets. They are are our enemy, catering to the Chinese Communist Party to access its market. They own the biased media and the Democrat Party, the biggest threat to our freedoms, and to our way of life in the world. They allow billions of internet crimes on their platforms, and commit millions of crimes themselves. They inflate viewership and defraud advertisers. Many of their viewers are not people."

      Does movement conservatism (and a White, male, faux libertarian blog) generate this level of insight, or instead merely attract it?

      1. Does Artie generate any insight, ever?

        1. Artie made fun of conservatives and for that offense was censored with prejudice by the Volokh Conspiracy Board of Censors.

          1. Artie. I have not been censored by Eugene since I complained to jeff@amazon.com. A Vice President emailed me, and fixed the problem. He has not censored anyone here. Are you referring to a long time ago, like 5 years ago?

  3. "Will European Privacy Law Protect American Child Molesters?"

    The DNC sure hopes so!

    1. The real question is how do we balance the rights of perps against the social good of prosecuting them.

      I don't claim to know how to do this -- but I'd like to think that folk far smarter than I are are trying to figure this out....

      1. Google and so on have advertising voodoo dolls of you, where AI builds lists of things you might want to buy. This guy just admitted the spy agencies are doing similar things, analyzing what you type, so there are voodoo dolls out there with political proclivities they can poke and prod, to see what you might want to do.

        We assume that mysterious 10% of twitter users who form the cancellation brigade are just self-important clods who have corporations who fire people as enforcers. What if they are more than that?

      2. I don’t claim to know how to do this — but I’d like to think that folk far smarter than I are are trying to figure this out….

        Don't we all?

        The problem being, of course, that even if there are such folk (and there probably are), there's no reason to believe these folk are in any policy or law-making positions, anywhere.

        Or to put it another way... consider just the implmentation of sex-offender registries.

        Even ignoring the question of whether or not having lifelong arbitrary restrictions on where you can live after you've supposedly "done your time" amounts to extra-judicial punishment, it's a simple fact that you can't actually rely on a sex offender registry to tell you if someone is a danger. Why? Because you get kids on the registry for taking lewd selfies and sending them to their same-age boyfriend/girlfriend. You have guys on it for public urination. You have guys that banged their "teenage" girlfriend... that were arrested on the day they turned 18, a few months ahead of said girlfriend. And so-on. Whatever valid purpose you can imagine for such a registry, it's undeniable that that the policy and lawmakers who are running the show are not interested in making a useful tool, and are more interested in "punishing" people.

        So yeah, I'd love if someone smarter then me in a policy or law-making position was trying to figure this out. But all the evidence points to those policy/law-makers not trying to figure this out, but trying to solve "what can I do that I can brag about to my base?"

  4. Tldr: Completely give up the concept of a right to privacy and live in a panopticon or the child molesters win.

    9/10 times. A good way to tell a proposal or law is not just bad but truly shit tier is if its 'for the children'.

  5. The assets of the tech billionaires of the US should be seized in civil forfeiture for the billions of federal crimes committed on their platforms. They commit millions of crimes by inflating viewerships, and defrauding advertisers. Many of their viewers and accounts are not human. They auction the assets off like the Ferrari of a drug dealer.

    They seek to placate the Chinese Communist Party to access its markets, to enrich themselves, and to hurt our country. They own the biased media and the Democrat Party.

    1. "Many of their viewers and accounts are not human."

      How can we tell if you're actually a human?

      Many (most? all?) of your rants are rather inhuman.

      1. That is just an insult, not an argument.

        1. Wow, talk about a robotic answer, but OK.

          I'm sorry...I missed the part where you were making rational arguments.

          For example, "I may seek to mandamus the civil forfeiture of these tech billionaire assets. They are are our enemy, catering to the Chinese Communist Party to access its market. They own the biased media and the Democrat Party, the biggest threat to our freedoms, and to our way of life in the world. They allow billions of internet crimes on their platforms, and commit millions of crimes themselves."

      2. Maybe instead of Captchas, user registration should requiring passing a Turing Test.

  6. It seems to me Ms. Timnit Gebru threatened to quit unless her demands were met, and Google took her up on it.

    While some at Google may see that as unfair to her - making that kind of threat does not seem exactly conducive to a good future working relationship.

  7. YOU GUYS I JUST REALIZED THAT THE FOURTH AMENDMENT PROTECTS CHILD MOLESTERS. OH NOZ!@

  8. Make it easy on themselves. Just watch to see who Hollywood honors in their next round of self congratulatory excess and go through Harvey Weinstein's phone.

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