Episode 207: What to do about China?

Our interview this week is with Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department’s Counterterrorism Coordinator.  We cover a Trump administration diplomatic achievement in the field of technology and terrorism that has been surprisingly undercovered (or maybe it’s not surprising at all, depending on how cynical you are about press coverage of the Trump administration).  We also explore new terrorism technology challenges and opportunities in social media, State’s role in designating terrorists, the difference a decade can make in tech and terror policy, and how the Ambassador lost his cowboy boots.

In the news roundup, China seems to be hiding behind half our stories this week. Brian Egan and I sift through the entrails of CFIUS’s pronouncements on the Qualcomm/Broadcom takeover fight charts, where Chinese competition in 5G is an ever-present subtext.

More broadly, we point to a flood of stories suggesting that the US government is just beginning to struggle with the challenge posed by an economically strong adversary nation. These include accusations of “weaponized capital,” naïve and compromised US academic institutions, and what amounts to a Chinese intelligence-industrial-unicorn complex.

The SEC says digital coin exchanges may be unlawful; bitcoin takes a market hit. But Matthew Heiman, in his first appearance on the podcast, expresses some doubt about the SEC’s authority over many of the businesses the agency called out.

The SEC wants something else to worry about, maybe it should be paying more attention to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), where techno-privacy zealots are getting ready to cripple the ability of business enterprises to secure their networks and comply with employee monitoring requirements.  Living down to my rock-bottom view of privacy campaigners, the IETF seems to be saying that in order to signal their virtue on privacy issues, they are happy to sacrifice our security – and compliance with law.

Part of the problem may be a lack of technically sophisticated staffers in government; Matthew and Jamil Jaffer chew over the cyber staffing crisis in government, and what can be done about it.

Finally, Jamil and Matthew comment on FBI director Wray’s statement that the FBI is not looking to blow a regulatory whistle on data-breached companies that ask for the Bureau’s help.

As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback.  Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

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Download the 207th 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 Matthew Heiman