Episode 164: Stewart on the Road to Tarsus

Episode 164 features Stewart Baker’s startling change of heart on the question of cyberspace norms. Credit goes to our interview guest, Tim Maurer, Fellow and co-director of the Cyber Policy Initiative at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. And perhaps as well to Brian Egan, former Legal Adviser to the State Department and now a partner at Steptoe. Tim and Brian talk about Tim’s view and that of his colleagues, George Perkovich and Ariel Levite, at Carnegie that the world is ripe for an enforceable norm against hacking to corrupt financial data in the banking system.  Remarkably, I agree with them, though not before casting aspersions on the United Nations and the State Department.

In the news roundup, we’re joined by Paul Rosenzweig of Red Branch Consulting and the DHS Policy office.  He critiques the cyber EO, which has finally been released – just in time for wCry ransomware.  I note with satisfaction that the Russian government itself was burned by the worm, which it almost certainly made possible under the Shadowbrokers nom de guerre. Naturally, others prefer to blame the National Security Agency.  Brad Smith of Microsoft is happy to blame NSA, and to claim that the crisis shows that we need a digital Geneva accord – which conveniently serves Silicon Valley’s corporate interests while conveniently distracting attention from Microsoft’s decisions about who would get a security patch and who would not.

Paul and I dive deep into NSA’s latest problems with compliance and the FISA court. I fear we have created perfect conditions for a risk-averse intelligence community. It’s beginning to look as though Groundhog Day falls on September 10.

Abbott Labs proposes to gag MedSec, I note, by making a settlement offer that would hide security flaws in Abbott’s implants. According to press reports MedSec would be prohibited by the settlement from talking about Abbott’s security flaws without giving notice to Abbott.

Finally, if President Trump taped Jim Comey at dinner, does it matter where they ate? Absolutely, says Paul.  Dinner at the White House or Trump Tower is fine, but taping a dinner at Mar-a-Lago could be a felony.

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Download the 164th 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.

Steptoe partner Stewart Baker with Tim Maurer
Steptoe partner Stewart Baker with Tim Maurer