The Volokh Conspiracy

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What's the Opposite of Facial Recognition?

Ask a Smart Toilet: It's Episode 374 of the Cyberlaw Podcast


The district court has ruled in the lawsuit between Epic and Apple over access to the Apple app store. Apple is claiming victory and Epic is appealing. But Apple's victory is not complete, and may have a worm at its core. Jamil Jaffer explains.

Surprised that ransomware gangs REvil and Groove are back – and thumbing their noses at President Biden? Dmitri Alperovitch isn't. He explains why U.S. ransomware policy has failed so far.

WhatsApp has finally figured out how to let users encrypt their chat backups in the cloud, to the surprise of many users who didn't realize their backups weren't encrypted. Meanwhile, the UK is looking for ways to hammer social media over end-to-end encryption.

Speaking of the encryption debate, Dmitri notes that Proton Mail joined the scrum this week, in a way it no doubt regrets. After all its bragging that mail users' privacy is "protected by Swiss law," Proton Mail disclosed that Swiss law can be surprisingly law enforcement friendly. Responding to a French request through Europol, Swiss authorities ordered the service to collect metadata on a particular account and overrode what had been seen as a Swiss legal requirement that users be notified promptly of such actions.

Is China suffering from GRU envy? I ask and David Kris answers: It sure looks that way, as China has begun trying to rally Chinese in America to support Chinese government positions on things like the origin of COVID. So far, China's record of success is as dismal as Russia's GRU, which has been unable to directly incite social conflict in the US, but I argue that China's effort poses a bigger problem for the body politic and for Chinese American interest groups.

Who'd have guessed? Turns out that the EU's flakey General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") prohibition on allowing automated decision making to affect people directly isn't just a twee nostalgia exercise; it's yet another reason that Europe is being left behind in the technology race. Jamil reports on a high-powered UK task force recommendation that the Brits dump the provision in order to allow for the growth of a British AI industry.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has banned social networks from removing political posts. David and I debate the meaning of the move for global internet governance.

And in a few quick hits:

  • I praise the Biden administration (faintly) for finally kicking off serious negotiations with the EU about transatlantic data transfer.
  • Dmitri dissects the undiplomatic speech of China's ambassador to the U.S.
  • David downloads the inside poop on smart toilets. Among other things, they'll be identifying us with, uh, let's just call it the opposite of facial recognition. Which raises the question: Once they can identify us, how long before "woke" Silicon Valley toilet engineers start canceling those of us who commit the microaggression of leaving the toilet seat up?
  • And Dmitri offers his solution for the dual European Community ("EC") encryption story.

And More!

Download the 374th Episode (mp3)

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