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The TikTok Dumpster Fire 

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John Yoo, Mark MacCarthy, and I kick off episode 329 by jumping with both feet into the cyberspace equivalent of a dumpster fire. There is probably a pretty good national security case for banning TikTok. In fact, China made the case a lot better than the Trump administration when it declared, “You know that algorithm that tells all your kids what to watch all day? That’s actually a secret national security asset of the People’s Republic of China.” But the administration’s process for addressing the national security issue was unable to keep up with President Trump’s eagerness to announce some kind of deal. The haphazard and easily stereotyped process probably also contributed to the casual decision of a magistrate in San Francisco to brush aside US national security interests in the WeChat case, postponing the order on dubious first amendment grounds that John Yoo rightly takes to task.

Megan Stifel tells us that the bill for decoupling from China is going to be high – up to $50 billion just for chips if you listen to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Speaking of big industry embracing big government, Pete Jeydel explains IBM’s slightly jarring suggestion that the government should slap export controls on a kind of face recognition technology that Big Blue doesn’t sell any more. Actually, when you put it like that, it kind of explains itself.

Megan tells us that the House has passed a bill on the security of IOT devices. The bill, which has also moved pretty far in the Senate, is modest, setting standards only for what the federal government will buy, but Megan has hopes that it will prove to be the start of a broader movement to address IOT security.

I reprise the latest demonstrations that Silicon Valley hates conservatives, and how far it will go to suppress their speech.  My favorite is Facebook deciding that a political ad that criticizes transwomen competing in women’s sports must be taken down because it “lacks context”. Unlike every other political ad since the beginning of time, apparently. Although Twitter’s double standard for a “manipulated media” label is pretty rich too: Turns out that in the Twitterverse, splicing Trump’s remarks to make him say what the Biden camp is sure he meant is perfectly fair , but splicing a Biden interview so he says what the Trump camp is sure he meant is Evil Incarnate.

Finally, Megan rounds out the week with a host of hacker news. The North Koreans are in bed with Russian cybercrime gangs.  (I can’t help wondering which one wakes up with fleas.) The Iranians are stealing 2FA codes and some of them have now been indicted by the US Justice Department, though not apparently for the 2FA exploit.  A long-running Chinese cybergang has also been indicted.  That won’t actually stop them, but it will be hard on their Malaysian accomplices, who are already in jail.

Our interview this week is with Michael Brown, a remarkably influential defense technologist. He’s been CEO of Symantec, co-wrote the report that led to the passage of FIRRMA and the transformation of CFIUS, and he now runs the Defense Innovation Unit in Silicon Valley. He explains what DIU does and some of the technological successes it has already made possible.

Oh, and we have new theme music, courtesy of Ken Weissman of Weissman Sound Design.  Hope you like it!

Download the 329th Episode (mp3)

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to [email protected]. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets.


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