This Week in Mistrusting Google: Klon Kitchen points to a Wall Street Journal story about all the ways Google tweaks its search engine to yield results that look machine-made but aren’t. He and I agree that most of these tweaks have understandable justifications – but you have to trust Google not to misuse them. And increasingly no one does. The same goes for Google’s foray into amassing and organizing health data on millions of Americans. It’s a nothing-burger with mayo, unless you mistrust Google. Since mistrusting Google is a growth industry, it’s getting a lot of attention, including from HHS investigators. Matthew Heiman explains, and when he’s done, my money is on Google surviving that investigation comfortably. The capital of mistrusting Google is Brussels, and not surprisingly, Maury Shenk tells us that the EU has forced Google to modify its advertising protocols to exclude data on health-related sites visited by its customers.


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The backlash against Big Tech dominates the episode, with new regulatory initiatives in the US, EU, Israel, Russia, and China. The misbegotten link tax and upload filter provisions of the EU copyright directive have survived the convoluted EU legislative gantlet. My prediction: the link tax will fail because Google wants it to fail, but the upload filter will succeed because Google wants YouTube’s competitors to fail.


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Our interview this week is with Hon. Michael Chertoff, my former boss at Homeland Security and newly minted author of Exploding Data: Reclaiming Our Cyber Security in the Digital Age. The conversation – and the book – is wide ranging and shows how much his views on privacy, data, and government have evolved in the decade since he left government. He’s a little friendlier to European notions of data protection, a little more cautious about government authority to access data, and even a bit more open to the idea of letting the victims of cyberattacks leave their networks to find their attackers (under government supervision, that is). It’s a thoughtful, practical meditation on where the digital revolution is taking us and how we should try to steer it.

Michael Chertoff and Stewart Baker
Michael Chertoff and Stewart Baker


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General Michael Hayden and Stewart Baker
General Michael Hayden and Stewart Baker

Our interview is with Gen. Michael Hayden, author of The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies. Gen. Hayden is a former head of the CIA and NSA, and a harsh critic of the Trump Administration. We don’t agree on some of his criticisms, but we have a productive talk about how intelligence should function in a time of polarization and foreign intervention in our national debates.


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We begin the podcast with This week in NSA, but how long that feature will survive is in doubt.  Because what’s most newsworthy this week is that there was practically no news about NSA.  Or at least no new scandal stories.  The principal new release came from the US government and consisted of a FISA

This week’s cyberlaw podcast begins as always with the week in NSA. We suspect that a second tech exec meeting with the President (for two hours!) bodes ill for the intelligence community, or at least the 215 metadata program, as does the shifting position of usually stalwart NSA supporters like Dianne Feinstein and Dutch Ruppersberger.

In the latest episode of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, Jason Weinstein and I cover a host of topics. In the continuing NSA saga, we note the Director’s hints about a possible end to the broad collection of metadata – and the FISA court’s refusal to extend the 5-year retention deadline for NSA’s store of metadata.

In our ninth episode of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, Stewart Baker, Michael Vatis, and Jason Weinstein discuss:

  • This week in NSA/Snowden: NSA weighs options for 215 data and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will not disclose the study of storage options; GCHQ’s webcam captures; Canadian extradition flap; ABA President sends letter to

This is part of a multi-blog series to demonstrate that product design may have—and in many areas of Internet law and regulation, will have—a determining factor for how a product or service is regulated. This first part relates the treatment of cloud services.

Breathing a Little Easier in the Cloud

Recently, the Second Circuit handed