The Volokh Conspiracy

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

Well, Have You Ever Seen Dr. Octopus and Sen. Klobuchar Together?   

Episode 348 of the Cyberlaw Podcast


This episode features a deep dive into the National Security Agency's self-regulatory approach to overseas signals intelligence, or SIGINT. Frequent contributor David Kris takes us into the details of the SIGINT Annex that governs NSA's collection outside the US. It turns out to be a surprising amount of fun as we stop to examine the SIGINT turf wars of the 40s, the intelligence scandals of the 70s, and how they shaped NSA's corporate culture.

In the news roundup, Bruce Schneier and I review the Canadian Privacy Commissioner's determination that Clearview AI violated Canadian privacy law by scraping Canadians' photos from social media. Bruce thinks Clearview had it coming; I'm skeptical, since it appears that pretty much everyone has been scraping public face data for their machine learning collections for years.

David Kris explains why a sleepy investment review committee with practically no staff is now being compared to a SWAT team. The short answer is Sen. Cornyn.

More and more, Gus Hurwitz and I note, Big Tech CEOs are being treated in Washington like comic book supervillains.  But have they finally met their match? Sen. Amy Klobuchar is clearly campaigning to be their nemesis. Like Doc Ock, she's throwing punch after punch at Big Tech, not just in antitrust legislation but Section 230 reform as well.

We're not done with Solar Winds yet, and Bruce Schneier thinks that's fair. He critiques the company for milking profits from its software niche without reinvesting in security.

Gus returns to the theme of Big Tech at bay, noting that Australia may start charging Google for linking to Australian news sites and that the Biden administration seems quite willing to join the rest of the world in imposing more taxes on tech profits.

David covers the flap between India and Twitter, which is refusing to follow refusing to follow an Indian government order to suppress several Twitter accounts. That's probably, I suggest, because India provided insufficient proof that the accounts in question belong to Republicans.

IBM seems to be bailing on blockchain, and Bruce thinks it's about time.  In some ways, IBM is the most interesting of tech companies, since it has less of a moat around its business than most and must live by its wits, which are formidable. Bruce offers quantum computing as an example of IBM doing the right things well.

Bruce and Gus help me with a preview of an upcoming interview of Nicole Perlroth as we cover an op-ed she drew from her new book. Bruce also offers a quick assessment of the draft report of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence The short version: there isn't enough there there.

Finally, Gus reminds us that a prophet who predicts the attention economy but then refuses to play by its rules is almost guaranteed to end up as an attention Cassandra, as Michael Goldhaber has.

And more!

Download the 348th Episode (mp3)

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