Header graphic for print

Steptoe Cyberblog

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Ambassador Sepulveda

Posted in China, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, International, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies

Our guest this week is Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda, the man charged with managing the US relationship with the International Telecommunications Union.  The ambassador helps us make sense of the recent ITU meeting in Busan, South Korea, where efforts to validate a greater government role in internet affairs seem to have been turned back for another four years.  Markham Erickson, a Steptoe partner specializing in internet law, also joins regulars Jason Weinstein, Michael Vatis, and me.

This week in NSA:  The USA Freedom Act is showing signs of life, as Senator Reid promises Senator Leahy floor time in the lame duck session.  But with Senator Feinstein opposed to the Judiciary-written bill, and the House having passed a different one, it’s still a long haul to get a bill to the President before the lame duck limps into history.  After a year-and-a-half-long Snowden-induced cringe, the US is again raising Chinese espionage more aggressively.  But that’s the only thing that has changed in the US-China dialogue on cyberespionage.  Just ask the Postal Service and the NOAA weather network.

We try out a new feature:  The Law Behind the Headlines, where we provide the legal background behind tech stories in the news:

  • Remember that Insecam website that streams video from thousands of video surveillance cameras that are still using the manufacturers’ default login credentials?  To Jason, it looks like the world’s most public confession to thousands of criminal violations.
  • And according to the press, law enforcement uses flying DRT Boxes (not to mention ground-based stingrays) to imitate cell towers and thus locate particular phones very accurately.  But to do so, the machines have to accept and then drop thousands of connections from the phones of ordinary Americans who aren’t suspects.  Is that legal?  How is it different from the NSA’s program of collecting data but not looking at it?  And can we get the US Marshal’s service to actually connect some of the calls they get from dead spots out in Great Falls?  Answers to all these questions in the podcast!

This week in bad law:  the Ninth Circuit will be revisiting the too-creative Kozinski opinion that based a takedown order on the dubious copyright claim of an actress who appeared in in “The Innocence of Muslims.”

This week in data breaches:  Anthem Blue Cross puts a bunch of medical advice and data in the subject line of its emails to patients.  That doesn’t inspire confidence in its data security, but is HIPAA violated?  Maybe not, Jason explains.

Argentina’s Supreme Court joins the great debate over search engine liability, spurring Michael and Markham to a debate of their own.  A Justice Department advocate admits to a mistake in oral argument on how forthcoming companies can be in NSL disclosures.  We debunk left/lib claims that the mistake is a government “misrepresentation.”

Google has weighed in on another privacy issue, essentially taking Europe’s side in a long-running debate over whether and how non-Americans should be covered by the Privacy Act.  I argue that changing the Act would simply enable European unilateralism in the long privacy debate with the United States.  Amb. Sepulveda and I tangle over whether the demand is a legitimate part of negotiations over the data protection US-EU Safe Harbor Agreement.

We remind everyone that the Podcast welcomes feedback, either by email (CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com) or voicemail (+1 202 862 5785).

Download the forty-third episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

 

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Orin Kerr

Posted in Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, International, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies

We share the program this week with Orin Kerr, a regular guest who knows at least as much as we do about most of these topics and who jumps in on many of them.  Orin, of course, is a professor of law at George Washington University and well-known scholar in computer crime law and Internet surveillance.

This week in NSA:  With NSA Director playing good cop in Silicon Valley, new GCHQ director Robert Hannigan seemed happy to play bad cop, releasing an op-ed saying that US tech companies were providing the “command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals” and would need to do a better job of cooperating with governments to combat terror and crime.  If nothing else, the speech is a hint to Silicon Valley that its clout in the Obama administration does not foretell success in fighting other governments’ surveillance goals.

And, with the election over, and it looks more likely than not that the GOP will end up with a 54-46 majority next year.  We surmise that this means no action on the USA Freedom Act (or Sen. Grassley’s substitute) until Spring 2015.

Finally, the DC Circuit heard argument in the appeal of Judge Leon’s famously exclamatory invalidation of NSA’s 215 metadata program.  As expected, Larry Klayman did nothing to help his case, and the panel was considerably more skeptical about the challenge than the Second Circuit panel that heard many of the same issues.  Our best guess from the arguments:  The Second Circuit decides that the program is inconsistent with section 215, the DC Circuit finds that the program is constitutional and that statutory issue has been waived, so there’s no split in the circuits until the Ninth Circuit rules, at which point the whole issue is cert-proof anyway because the statute has expired or been revised.

Talk about opening a can of worms.  The Supreme Court’s decision in Riley that cell phones can’t be searched without a warrant has now spawned fights about what the warrant should say, and how many limits it should set on what the police can look at.  The Nebraska Supreme Court has weighed in – but leaves the police more or less in limbo.

Whether the contents of a webmail account are protected from government search depends on the webmail provider’s terms of use.  Or so says the Southern District of New York, in a decision none of us can understand or really get behind.

Speaking of the Southern District of New York, prosecutors there may singlehandedly make more tech surveillance law than the rest of the country.  They’re fighting with a phone manufacturer to get help unlocking a suspect’s phone.

And a Virginia court has ruled – to our utter lack of surprise – that suspects may be forced to apply their fingers to cellphones protected by fingerprint readers.  More interesting is whether they can be forced to enter “patterns” or tell the police which finger unlocks their phone (our view: no and no).

Google has finished its “right to be forgotten” road trip, and Americans’ freedom to read accurate information is on the block in Europe.  An official of the European Commission made clear that the Commission would not rest until it had imposed its link censorship regime on google.com and Google’s American users.  The administration’s response?  Crickets.

Data retention is making a comeback in Europe, as Sweden joins the UK in demanding continued retention despite a European Court of Justice ruling against the directive that originally led to retention requirements.

Is the financial industry worried enough about cybersecurity that it’s actually calling for more activist government action?  SIFMA’s latest call comes close.

We remind everyone that the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast welcomes feedback, either by email (CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com) or voicemail (+1 202 862 5785).

Download the forty-second episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with John Lynch

Posted in Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, International, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies, Uncategorized

Our guest is one of the most highly regarded cybercrime prosecutors in the country – John Lynch, the Chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) in DOJ’s Criminal Division.  Among other things, John talks about how DOJ is organized to investigate and prosecute cybercrime and about its efforts to strengthen partnerships with and build capacity among foreign law enforcement partners in what is increasingly a global fight.  John also reflects on the impact of the Snowden leaks on domestic law enforcement and on the challenges the courts and prosecutors are facing dealing with electronic evidence issues in a time of rapidly changing technology.  And we talk about the role of the private sector in cyber defense.

This Week in NSA:    “Second leaker” identified by the FBI – does Snowden have a spare bedroom?  GCHQ says it can access data provided by the NSA without a warrant.  That bothers privacy groups, who apparently are unfazed by the fact that GCHQ can also access data on its own citizens without a warrant, and can get a warrant without seeing a judge.  On a related front, former FBI Director Bob Mueller calls the Snowden leaks “devastating” to efforts to investigate and disrupt national security threats, in the process noting that the US is unique in terms of the level of judicial review required for electronic surveillance.

The ITU continues to try to take control of the Internet.  Law firms become a focus of hacking concern, as NYDFS letter puts spotlight on vendor management.  A Private sector coalition engages in what you might call active defense against “Axiom” group of Chinese hackers.  The FCC becomes America’s latest de facto data protection authority.

Move over China, as FireEye identifies a Russian cyberweapon.  Meanwhile, a DARPA official basically says that since we use the same popular software, we’re making it too easy for hackers.

And we bring you another candidate for Dumbest Privacy Case of the Year, involving both privacy and cleavage.

We remind everyone that the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast welcomes feedback, either by email (CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com) or voicemail (+1 202 862 5785).

Download the forty-first episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Robert Litt

Posted in Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, International, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies

Our guest this week is Robert (Bob) Litt, the General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  Bob has had a distinguished career in government, from his clerkship with Justice Stewart, his time as a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York and at Main Justice, and more than five years in the ODNI job.  This week in NSA:  The latest fad in news coverage of the agency is a hunt for possible conflicts of interest in its leadership.  And it’s having an effect.  Two high-ranking NSA seniors, the CTO and the head of signals intelligence have recently left positions that drew scrutiny for getting too close to private industry.  I ask him whether we should be pleased or worried about the trend toward individual converts to Islam carrying out random attacks with whatever weapon comes to hand.  Prudently, he refuses to be drawn into my comparison of Islamists to the Manson Family.  We debate whether the USA Freedom Act has a chance of passage in the lame duck Congress – and whether it should, focusing among other things on how the act’s FISA civil liberties advocates would function and what ethical rules would govern their day jobs.  And we explore another ODNI project – implementing the President’s directive on protecting the privacy of foreign nationals while gathering intelligence.  Are the nation’s spies really required to wait until a foreign target’s speech goes beyond what the first amendment protects before they collect and analyze the remarks?  Will the requirement for advance justification for collection projects institutionalize risk aversion at NSA?  And can government officials look forward to intelligence reports that read like this: “[SYRIAN NATIONAL 1] asked [IRAQI NATIONAL 1] to kill [US PERSON 1]”?

Our news roundup begins with the sudden press interest in possible conflicts of interest in NSA’s leadership.  The Supreme Court takes another privacy case – one with no obvious federal connection.  Lots of city ordinances require hotels to keep guest registries – and to let the police inspect those registries on demand.  But the 9th circuit recently held en banc that these laws touch the privacy interests of the hotel owner, not just the guests, and that the laws are unconstitutional if they offer no opportunity for prior judicial review of the police demand.  Just what we need:  another opportunity for the Roberts Court to pad a narrow ruling with a lot of ill-considered dicta about Smith v. Maryland.

Harking back to last week’s interview with Tom Finan about insurance coverage for cyber incidents, we discover that where there’s insurance coverage there are also insurance coverage disputes.  The head of Steptoe’s insurance coverage practice explains the P.F. Chang dispute with Travelers Insurance and hints that it’s in the first wave of what could be thirty years of litigation.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

FBI Director Comey isn’t alone in complaining about Silicon Valley’s reluctance to help law enforcement.  Leslie Caldwell, the new head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, has joined the chorus.

According to the Stored Communications Act, companies like Google may not provide the contents of emails in response to subpoenas.  So what do civil litigants do when they need access to Gmail accounts in, say, divorce cases?  The usual solution is for the court with jurisdiction over the civil suit to order the litigants to “consent” to the disclosure of their email messages.  But is court-ordered consent really consent?  According to a California appeals court, it is.  Michael explains.

Whoa!  The FCC really is taking cybersecurity seriously.  It’s proposing $10 million in fines for two carriers who stored hundreds of thousands of “Obamaphone” beneficiaries’ personal data on a server accessible by anyone on the internet.

Confusion over when you need a warrant to get third party information continues to roil the courts.  The Florida Supreme Court raises the bar for cell-site location data.  And the NJ AG plots a counter-attack on a billing record warrant requirement in the Garden State.  Michael suggests a new feature to keep all the litigation straight:  This Week in Smith v. Maryland.

Lawyers with banks for clients have a new reason to upgrade their cybersecurity.  As the banks struggle with increasingly sophisticated intrusions, they’re sharing the pain, demanding that their contractors and suppliers adopt stronger cybersecurity.  Law firms are expressly included, since they’ve been targeted frequently for what inevitably will be called “bank shot” intrusions.

We remind everyone that the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast welcomes feedback, either by email (CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com) or voicemail (+1 202 862 5785).

Download the fortieth episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Tom Finan

Posted in Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies

Our guest today is Tom Finan, Senior Cybersecurity Strategist and Counsel at DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), where he is currently working on policy issues related to cybersecurity insurance and cybersecurity legislation.  Marc Frey asks him why DHS, specifically NPPD, is interested in cybersecurity insurance, what trends they are seeing in this space for carriers and other stakeholders, and what is next for their role in this space.  He is incredibly forthcoming in his responses and even asks listeners to email him  with their feedback.

This week in NSA:   The House and Senate Judiciary chairs call for action on USA Freedom Act.  And nobody cares.  We conclude that the likelihood of action before the election is zero, and the likelihood of action in a lame duck is close to zero.  But next week we’ll be interviewing Bob Litt, one of the prime negotiators for the intelligence community on this issue, and he may have a different view.

The Great Cable Unbundling seems finally upon us, as several content providers announce that they’re willing to sell content direct to consumers over the Internet.  Does that mean more support for net neutrality?  Not necessarily.  Stephanie Roy explains.

Are parents responsible for what their adolescent kids do and say on Facebook?  That makes sense, if you’ve never had adolescent kids.  Maybe that explains why Michael Vatis sees merit in the Georgia appellate court decision finding potential liability.  It reversed the trial court, which had granted summary judgment in favor of the parents of a kid who set up a fake and defamatory Facebook page in the name of a classmate he hated.  The facts are a little odd.  The kid who set up the page never took it down, even after he’d been caught and punished by school and parents.  The appeals court thought that the parents had a “supervisory” obligation to make their child delete the fake account, and that they could be held liable for negligently failing to do so.  It’s quite possible, though, that everyone in this case is a Privacy Victim; the issue could have been hashed out with a phone call from the parents of the victim to the parents of the perpetrator, but according to the press, “the child’s parents didn’t immediately confront the boy’s parents because their school refused to identify the culprit.”  Because privacy.

FBI Director Comey comes out swinging for CALEA reform, saying in a speech at Brookings that the law needs to be updated to require cooperation from makers of new communications systems when the FBI has a court order granting access to those systems.

When it comes to regulating on other topics, though, the Justice Department is a little less restrained; it has opened the door to a round of new disability claims against websites, offering a roadmap to what it thinks the law requires.

The right to be forgotten is attracting more flak in Europe, as the BBC announces a competing “right to remember” website devoted to publicizing stories that Google has delinked.  It’s Auntie BBC v. Nanny Europe.  Cue popcorn.  Unhappily, a “progressive” group most famous for relentlessly sliming Google on privacy issues has urged the search engine to bring the right to be forgotten  to the United States.  Sigh.

In breach news, TD Bank pays $850,000 to the state AGs over a “breach” that may never have happened.  TD lost a backup tape in transit, and the data wasn’t encrypted.  Was anyone’s data actually compromised by the loss of the tape?  The AGs don’t say.  They just want their money.  And they get it.

The Russians are getting sloppy, or maybe they’re taking a leaf from China’s book – figuring it doesn’t matter if they get caught. And caught they have been, by iSight Partners, which reports that Russian hackers used a Microsoft zero-day to target Western governments and Ukraine.  Meanwhile, the FBI is warning about another and even more sophisticated set of Chinese government hackers.  And hackers are now adding a new form of targeted attack to their arsenal a tactic that combines spearphishing with watering hole attacks.  They’re targeting ads at users that take them to a compromised website that serves malware.

And, in good news for privacy skeptics, the Video Privacy Protection Act gets a narrow reading.

We remind everyone that the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast welcomes feedback, either by email (CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com) or voicemail ( +1 202 862 5785).

Download the thirty-ninth episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Shaun Waterman

Posted in Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies

Our guest for the podcast is Shaun Waterman, editor of POLITICO Pro Cybersecurity.  Shaun is an award-winning journalist who has worked for the BBC and United Press International; and an expert on counterterrorism and cybersecurity.

We begin as usual with the week’s NSA news.  NSA has released its second privacy transparency report.  We’ve invited Becky Richards, NSA’s privacy and civil liberties watchdog, on the program to talk about it, so I’m using this post to lobby her to become a guest soon:   Come on in, Becky, it’s a new day at the NSA!

Laura Poitras’s new film about Snowden gets a quick review.  We question the hyped claim that there’s a “second leaker” at NSA; most of the leaked information described in the film was already pretty widely known.

Two more post-Snowden pieces of litigation are also in the news.  As promised, we dig deeper into the Justice Department’s botched handling of the notice that must be given to parties on the receiving end of FISA taps and section 702 of FISA.  As often turns out to be the case, the Justice Department develops a limp, and all the other agencies have to put stones in their shoes:  It looks as though OFAC is going to be dragged into this comedy of errors.

The second piece of litigation began as a humdrum piece of FOIA litigation (though with a bit of Glomar for spice).  It has now has produced a much more interesting result:  Judge Pauley, ordinarily a good friend to the government, declares that he has lost confidence in the Justice Department’s representations about the risks of releasing  FISA opinions; he insists on reviewing the FIS court’s opinions himself in camera to decide what can be released.

In other national security litigation, we all know that a canary can emit a twitter, but can Twitter emit a canary?  The social media giant is going to court to get approval for its “warrant canary,” claiming a first amendment right to list the orders it has not (yet) received under national security surveillance laws.  Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, the government’s authority to issue gag orders in national security letters is argued before the Ninth Circuit, which seems to find the issue at least a little troubling.

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but just as Europol is raising the possibility that the internet might be used to kill people, the FDA is trying to do something about it, issuing cybersecurity guidelines for manufacturers.   We damn them with faint praise, note that our refrigerators have been trying to kill us slowly for years, and wonder when the National Highway Safety Administration will security guidelines for self-driving cars.

The pendulum may be swinging toward privacy in the US but it swings hard the other way in the Southern Hemisphere.  First New Zealand gives Snowden a swift kick and now the Australian government is enacting surveillance reforms that increase government authority to conduct national security intercepts.

There’s a bit of good news in our update on the right to be forgotten.  The European Commission has poured cold water on the European Court of Justice, hinting strongly that the court’s enthusiasm for sacrificing free expression is a bad idea.  Sad to say, though, the notion seems as communicable as Ebola; even Japan is getting in the act, as a Tokyo court orders Google to take down search links at the request of an individual.

The prize for Dumbest Judicial Opinion of the Month goes (where else?) to the Ninth Circuit, which expressed shock and dismay over the idea that a Navy investigator conducted “surveillance of all the civilian computers in an entire state” in the course of looking for military personnel trading child porn.  Turns out that the investigator in question simply looked at images being shared publicly online using a common file-sharing program, Gnutella.  And when he had the IP address of someone sharing child porn images he checked to see if the suspect worked for the military.  When that turned out not to be the case, he turned the information over to civilian law enforcement, giving the Ninth Circuit a severe case of the vapors and ultimately leading to exclusion of the evidence.  Because posse comitatus.  You won’t want to miss my translation from the Latin.

We unpack the controversy over Ross Ulbricht and how the FBI managed to captcha him.  And we congratulate the FCC for a regulatory action near and dear to anyone who’s ever paid too much for bad Wi-Fi in a good hotel.

Finally, we remind everyone that the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast welcomes feedback, either by email (CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com) or voicemail ( +1 202 862 5785).  And to prove it, I read a message from Dick Mills, a libertarian blogger who started out tagging me as the Great Satan of statism but ended by admitting that the podcast occasionally changed his mind.  We can’t ask for more than that.

Download the thirty-eighth episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Rob Corbet

Posted in Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, International, Security Programs & Policies

Our guest today is Rob Corbet, a partner and head of the Technology & Innovation group in Arthur Cox, a large Irish law firm.  Ireland is a uniquely important jurisdiction for US companies dealing with data protection issue.  I ask whether Ireland’s role is going to become more or less powerful under the proposed revision,  and we talk about the replacement of its longstanding data protection commissioner.

This week in NSA:   NSA is getting ever thinner, but there is still a knock-on effect from the Snowden revelations, which is now complicating the way Treasury designates people and institutions for sanctions.  This is a complex tale, and we will dig deeper into it next week.

Web publishers are taking it on the chin everywhere.  Russia has told Google, Twitter, and Facebook to register under Russian law and submit to Russian regulation, including local storage of Russian data.  And the EU Article 29 Working Party is working on how to implement the right to be forgotten, combining it its usual way ineffectual bureaucratics with politically correct misrepresentations.  Bet you didn’t know that the right to be forgotten isn’t censorship, apparently because you’re being censored first by companies, then by “independent” data protection agencies, and finally by the courts.  That’s not censorship, say European regulators, it’s “balancing.”  I’m reminded of Mary McCarthy, who famously said of Lillian Hellman, “Every word she writes is a lie, including “and” and ‘the’.”  (Meanwhile the New York Times announces that it’s been hit by the right to be forgotten, with several of its stories going down the memory hole.)

In the US, the attack on web publishers is taking a different form, but it’s no less effective.  When Apple screws up and allows the disclosure of celebrity nude photos, it’s Google that gets hit with the threat of a $100 million lawsuit, on grounds that are half copyright, and half a kind of right to be forgotten.  Google immediately surrenders, claiming that it’s taken down links to the photos.

Finally, in the most troubling cybersecurity news of the month, maybe the year, JP Morgan acknowledges a deep penetration of its computer networks by sophisticated hackers – quite possibly aided by the Russian government.  Exactly what the hackers took and what they intended is still not clear, something that makes the intrusion more ominous not less, raising as it does the possibility that Russia intends to impose its own style of financial sanctions on the United States.

All of which raises the question whether JP Morgan should protect itself by adding a “Herod clause” to its terms of service:  anyone accessing the site without authority automatically surrenders custody of his firstborn.  If it worked for F-Secure’s free wi-fi service, maybe it will work for cybersecurity.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is now open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com.  If you’d like to leave a message by phone, contact us at +1 202 862 5785.

Download the thirty-seventh episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Admiral David Simpson

Posted in Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies

Our guest today is Admiral David Simpson, Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.  Admiral Simpson has more than 20 years of Information and Communications Technology experience supporting the Department of Defense.  Adm. Simpson is joined by Clete Johnson, his Chief Counsel for Cybersecurity.  The interview digs deep into Chairman Wheeler’s cybersecurity initiative, asking among other things exactly how voluntary it will be, what telecom companies can do to stop DDOS attacks, and what CSRIC really stands for.

It’s getting harder and harder to find new NSA stories, which must be a relief to the agency.  Last week, the only news was NSA’s decision to name Anne Neuberger its Chief Risk Officer.  Anne is an able woman who knows the outside world better than practically anyone at the agency, but I can’t shake the feeling that what the agency wants is a Chief Risk-Aversion Officer.

In other news, how to handle location data after Riley continues to bedevil the circuit courts, but the Fifth Circuit seems to have come to a surprisingly reasonable result, holding that users don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the cell-site data that they give the phone company so it can connect calls to them.

Adm. Simpson and I dig into three stories that are more technical than legal but which will all have legal fallout soon:   It turns out that Apple may have known about the iCloud security flaw that enabled disclosure of nude celebrity photos for as long as six months before the hack.  The Shellshock bug debunks the notion that open-source is inherently more secure than proprietary code, and it means that anyone who has built their business on Linux should be scrambling (that means you, Apple and Google). And the financial industry launches a real-time information-sharing program that will finally test-drive the vision underlying the bills that Congress has been trying to pass for years.

In retaliation for Western sanctions, Russia is advancing the date for mandatory social media data localization.  Meanwhile, Google’s staggering potential liability for “wiretapping” publicly broadcast Wi-Fi signals has led to an interesting discovery fight, with the self-proclaimed victims of the wiretapping challenged to show that Google actually intercepted any of their data when the Street View car drove past their homes.  If the plaintiffs fail, their whole case (and their lawyers’ payday) are at risk, since non-victims are not proper class representatives.

Finally, a brief cybersecurity obituary:   Apple’s warrant canary is pining for the fjords.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is now open to feedback.  Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com.  If you’d like to leave a message by phone, contact us at +1 202 862 5785.

Download the thirty-sixth episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here. We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Julian Sanchez

Posted in Cybersecurity and Cyberwar, Data Breach, International, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies

For those who think the podcast is best when we have a guest from the opposite end of the political spectrum, episode 35 should be a treat.  (We’re late this week, but it will be well worth the wait.)  Our guest is Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who studies surveillance and other issues at the intersection of technology and civil liberties.  He is a founding editor of the policy blog Just Security, and recently debated another of our guests, Orin Kerr, on Apple’s recent announcement that it would no longer be able to decrypt iPhones for law enforcement.  We dig into that issue in detail, asking such questions as how often encryption has actually stymied an investigation, whether “hacking” the phone is a substitute for help from the company, what this means for corporate users of iPhones, the implications for Apple (and Google) in other countries, and whether Google/Apple run a risk under current US law of lawsuits by prosecutors or by crime victims.

Our news roundup begins with some of the first good news NSA has received in months.  It looks as though Snowden fatigue may finally be setting in abroad as well as here. Last week, Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and Internet multimillionaire Kim Dotcom teamed up to “close one of the Five Eyes” by driving New Zealand’s government out of office in national elections.  They combined strategic leaks, a Snowden attack on the prime minister as a liar, and Dotcom’s multimillion dollar campaign war chest.  Well, the elections are over, and the Anti-NSA Dream Team was trounced.  In less good news, NSA Director Mike Rogers admits to having missed more than he’d like about ISIS’s rise. We debate how much the political furor over the agency contributes to these problems.

In other news, we discover that auto-forwarding someone else’s email is a wiretap – and why suing for a privacy violation is much better than seeking alimony.  Meanwhile, the Home Depot case sets a new record, and the Neiman Marcus data breach case gives comfort to class action defense lawyers all across the country.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals tells us that the constitution may protect upskirt photos.

And, finally, we speculate whether the whole privacy law thing will finally melt down over health data, especially now that concerns about HIPAA are stifling innovation by app companies, spurring a turf war between the FTC and HHS, and, most of all, getting in the way of rapid response by government agencies accused of wrongdoing.

Finally, we announce a new feature of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast: feedback.  Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com.  If you’d like to leave a message by phone here’s the number: +1 202 862 5785. We may play your message on the podcast if it’s particularly insightful or entertainingly abusive.

Download the thirty-fifth episode (mp3).

Subscribe to the Cyberlaw Podcast here.  We are also now on iTunes and Pocket Casts!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.

Snowden Fatigue is Spreading Abroad

Posted in International, Privacy Regulation, Security Programs & Policies

If you think Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald have stopped attacking NSA, you haven’t been following them closely enough.  While American media have largely lost interest in Snowden and Greenwald, the pair continue to campaign outside the United States against the intelligence agency.

Their most ambitious effort was in New Zealand, a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance with the US and UK.  The center-right New Zealand government has been embroiled in accusations of illegal surveillance of Kim Dotcom, who grew wealthy running a file-sharing site and is now fighting extradition to the United States for copyright violations.  As part of that fight, Dotcom dove into New Zealand’s national elections, hoping to unseat the two-term government and, in his words, “to close one of the Five Eyes.”

Snowden and Greenwald dove in with him, joining eagerly in campaign events sponsored by Dotcom.  Greenwald used his new Omidyar-funded news site to release a lengthy article in the last week of the campaign; it accused New Zealand of working with NSA to conduct mass surveillance.  When the prime minister denied the accusation, Snowden called him a liar.

The combination of carefully timed Snowden leaks and Dotcom’s millions looked potent.  Dotcom even funded a new Internet Party, aligned with the small Mana party, which already had a seat in New Zealand’s Parliament.

Well, New Zealanders went to the polls today, and the results are in.

The biggest losers?  Snowden, Greenwald, and Dotcom.

The prime minister whom Snowden accused of lying won an “overwhelming” victory that may give him the first outright majority for any New Zealand party in nearly twenty years.

Meanwhile, Dotcom’s Internet Party bombed, even costing its tiny ally the only seat it held in Parliament.