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Steptoe Cyberblog

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).

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