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Steptoe Cyberblog

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Benjamin Wittes

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

This week’s podcast features a conversation with none other than Lawfare’s own Ben Wittes. But it begins as usual with This Week in NSA: A Reuters story claims that researchers showed something bad about the way NSA influenced the Dual EC encryption standard.  The story glided insouciantly over two of the more newsworthy aspects of the researchers’ work: (1) They couldn’t actually find the weakness everyone has been assuming and (2) Practically no one is using the supposedly flawed standard, so practically no one is at risk.  In other NSA news, a civil libertarian academic who was part of the President’s expert’s group NSA published a candid assessment of the agency – almost all of it positive.  And Yahoo! has finally been able to encrypt its back-office communications – aiming at NSA and hitting foreign law enforcement squarely between the eyes.

In This Week in Reruns, LabMD is back from the dead, maybe.  Michael Vatis discusses the company’s latest filing and its chances of turning the case around.  Jason Weinstein reports that the banks that sued Target’s security assessor have had second thoughts.  Microsoft’s search of Hotmail to protect its property yields a guilty plea; but the company will still be cleaning up after the search long after this defendant has served his sentence.  And the latest chapter in Google’s struggle with the most famous ten-second video performance in history ends abruptly.

Despite its name, The Onion Router doesn’t really turn your messages into spoofed news stories (cool as that would be).  Also known as TOR, it is the US-government-funded security tool that has won fans among human rights campaigners and pedophiles.  Now, Jason reports, law enforcement is finding ways to at least dent the security TOR provides.

And a handful of federal magistrates have discovered the sweetest gig in the judicial branch.  They can make law that goes viral without worrying about being reversed.  As long as they rule against the government.  As many have been doing, imposing limits on computer search warrants as a condition of signing them.  Jason and I discuss the merits and motivations of these rulings – and what Justice can do about them.

Finally, Ben Wittes joins the fray, previewing his testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  He discovers hidden connections between the AUMF and section 702 interception authority.  Speaking of section 702, Ben and I dig deeper into the House Intelligence Committee’s redraft of the section 215 metadata authority, which could be marketed as 702 Jr.  We explore the politics and policy behind the bill, and the President’s determination to carve out a sliver of difference with the committee, and what’s wrong with the widespread assumption that the telcos have at least eighteen months’ worth of back data that can be exploited even if NSA destroys its current database.

Download the fourteenth episode (mp3).

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