Episode 210: Keeper: Loser, Weeper

In the news roundup, Nick Weaver, Ben Wittes, and I talk about the mild reheating of the encryption debate, sparked not just by renewed FBI pleading but by the collapse of the left-lib claim that building in access is impossible because math. The National Academy report on encryption access has demonstrated that access is practicable, with support from a group of prominent tech experts, such as Ray Ozzie, all of whom know math.

Speaking of law enforcement, it was a good week for cybercrime enforcement. Nick and I touch on two victories for the good guys, with the Carbanak mastermind busted in Spain and Yevgeny Nikulin extradited to the US over Russian objections.

Meanwhile, DHS is moving forward on one of the more significant efforts to prevent terrorist travel across borders by using social media data effectively. The agency will be requiring social media names (but not passwords) from visa applicants, according to a proposed rule now gathering comments. Maury Shenk, Ben, Nick, and I talk about the privacy and first amendment issues implicated by the policy. We don’t agree on most of those issues.

But we find surprising unanimity in mocking Julian Assange for deservedly losing his internet access at the Ecuador embassy. The panel even endorses Matt Green’s wicked suggestion for trolling Assange from the sidewalk outside Assange’s Ecuadoran squat.

We close with a quick sack dance over the prone form of Keeper Security, which has dropped its libel suit against Dan Goodin and Ars Technica, probably because it was going to lose; the defendants’ coverage of Keeper’s serious security problems was straight and fair. Bottom line: there are plenty of good password managers; why use one whose management sues to suppress news of its product’s security holes? When that sinks in, Keeper won’t just be a loser; here’s hoping it will be a weeper too.

Our interview with David Sanger covers the vulnerability of the US grid, the psychic income and electoral popularity that Vladimir Putin gets from crossing the West’s red lines, and whether we’d be better off sparking an escalating set of cyberattacks now or later.

If the last question reminds you that John Bolton will soon be the National Security Adviser, you’re not alone. We take a few minutes off from plumbing cyberlaw to exploring just what kind of national security adviser Bolton will be. My bottom line: better than his reputation, and maybe much better.

Maury Shenk, Ben Wittes and Stewart Baker (left to right)
Steptoe partner Stewart Baker with David Sanger

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