The Volokh Conspiracy

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

Is This Podcast Sentient?

Episode 413 of the Cyberlaw Podcast


This episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast begins by digging into a bill more likely to transform tech regulation than most of the proposals you've actually heard of – a bipartisan effort to regulate US tech investment abroad. The new bill holds a mirror up to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), Matthew Heiman reports. Where CFIUS regulates inward investment from adversary nations, the new proposal will regulate outward investment – from the U.S. to adversary nations. The goal is to slow the transfer of technical expertise (and capital) from the U.S. to China. It is opposed by the Chinese government and the same U.S. business alliance that campaigned against Senator Cornyn's CFIUS reforms in 2018. If it passes, I predict, it will be as part of must-pass legislation and will come as a big surprise to most technology observers.

The cryptocurrency world might as well make Leslie Gore its official chanteuse, because everyone is crying at the end of the crypto party. Well, except for Nick Weaver, who does a Grand Tour of all the overleveraged cryptocurrency firms on or over the verge of collapse as bitcoin values drop to $20 thousand and below.

Scott Shapiro and I trade views on the spate of stories claiming that Microsoft is downgrading security in its products. It would unfortunately make sense for Microsoft to strip-mine value from its standalone proprietary software by stinting on security, we think, but we can't explain why the firm would neglect cloud security, as it is increasingly accused of doing.

That brings us to NickTalk about TikTok, and a behind-the-scenes look at what has happened to the TikTok-CFIUS case in the years since former President Donald Trump left the stage. Turns out that CFIUS has been doggedly pursuing the pieces of the deal that were still on the table in 2020: localization of U.S. user data and no Chinese access to the data. The first is moving forward, Nick tells us; the second is turning out to be a morass.

Speaking of localization, India's determination to localize credit card data has been rewarded. Matthew reports that cutting off new credit card customers for noncompliant card systems did the trick: Mastercard localized its data, and India has now lifted the ban.

Scott reports on Japan's latest contribution to the techlash: a law that makes 'online insults' a crime.

Scott also notes a modest bright spot in NSO Group's litigation with Facebook: The Supreme Court granted the company's plea that the U.S. government be asked to weigh in on whether NSO could claim sovereign immunity for the hacking tools it sells to government. Nick puts his grave-dancing shoes back on to report the bad news for NSO: the Biden administration is trashing a rumored acquisition by U.S.—based L3Harris Technologies.

Scott makes short work of the idea that a Google AI chatbot has achieved sentience. Of course, as a trained philosopher, Scott seems a little reluctant to concede that I've achieved sentience. We do agree that it's a hell of a good chatbot.

And in quick hits, I note the appointment of April Doss as General Counsel for the National Security Agency Counsel after a long series of acting General Counsels.

Download the 413th Episode (mp3)

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