Episode 216: Every President gets the White House he deserves

The Cyberlaw Podcast has now succumbed to an irresistible media trend: We begin the episode with a tweet from President Trump. In this one, he promises to get ZTE “back in business, fast.” Paul Rosenzweig and Nick Weaver provide the backstory, and a large helping of dismay, at the President’s approach to the issue.

I question the assumption that this will make the life of Chinese telecom equipment makers easier in the US. If anything it could be worse. The 2019 NDAA being drafted in the House will make it very difficult for telecom companies that do business with the Pentagon to rely on Chinese (or Russian) equipment (see page 259 et seq.). If anything, the President probably ensured a unanimous Democratic vote for the measure.

The cyber coordinator position in the White House is on the endangered list. Paul explains why it should survive. His take is not completely snark-free. Summing up the first two stories, I suggest that every President gets the White House he deserves.

Nick explains how badly American democracy could be harmed by a relatively trivial Russian (or Iranian, or North Korean) cyberattack on voter registration databases later in 2018. Indeed, they had a chance to launch such an attack in 2016, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee. This is an avoidable disaster if election officials take action now, I point out, but Paul doubts they will.

Paul and I lament the insouciance and ahistoricity of the Fourth Circuit’s new ruling adding half a dozen new judicial constraints to border searches of cell phones.

Speaking of cyberattacks, you’d better buckle up, because Iranian retribution for US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is probably being prepared as you read this. And according to a highly educational Recorded Future/Insikt report, Iran’s semi-privatized hacking ecosystem is likely to err on the side of escalation.

The Iranians aren’t the only ones upping their game. Nick reports on an excellent Crowdstrike report on the new sophistication of Nigerian scammers.

We close with Nick’s dissection of the troubling code decisions underlying a pedestrian death caused by Uber’s autonomous vehicle.

The Cyberlaw Podcast is hiring a part-time intern for our Washington, DC offices.

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Download the 216th 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.