In breaking news from 1995, the Washington Post takes advantage of a leaked CIA history paper to retell the remarkable tale of Crypto AG, a purveyor of encryption products to dozens of governments – and allegedly a wholly controlled subsidiary of US and German intelligence. Nick Weaver, Paul Rosenzweig, and I are astonished at the derring-do and unapologetic enthusiasm for intelligence collection. I mean, really: The Pope?

This week’s interview is with Jonathan Reiber, a writer and strategist in Oakland, California, and former Chief Strategy Officer for Cyber Policy and Speechwriter at the Department of Defense, currently senior advisor at Technology for Global Security and visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. His recent report offers a candid view of strained relations between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. The interview explores the reasons for that strain, the importance of bridging the gap, and how that can best be done.


Continue Reading Episode 300: Wiretapping the Pope

Our interview is with Alex Joel, former Chief of the Office of Civil Liberties, Privacy, and Transparency at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Alex is now at the American University law school’s Tech, Law, and Security Program. We share stories about the difficulties of government startups and how the ODNI carved out a role for itself in the Intelligence Community (hint: It involved good lawyering). We dive pretty deep on recent FISA court opinions and the changes they forced in FBI procedures. In the course of that discussion, I realize that every “reform” of intelligence dreamed up by Congress in the last decade has turned out to be a self-licking compliance trap, and I take back some of my praise for the DNI’s lawyering.


Continue Reading Episode 283: Is intelligence “reform” a self-licking ice cream cone and compliance trap?

Our guests this week are Paul Scharre from the Center for a New American Security and Greg Allen from the Defense Department’s newly formed Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Paul and Greg have a lot to say about AI policy, especially with an eye toward national security and strategic competition. Greg sheds some light on DOD’s activity, and Paul helps us understand how the military and policymakers are grappling with this emerging technology. But at the end of the day, I want to know: Are we at risk of losing the AI race with China? Paul and Greg tell me not all hope’s lost – and how we can retain technological leadership.


Continue Reading Episode 274: Will Silicon Valley have to choose between end-to-end crypto and shutting down speech it hates?

Today, I interview Frank Blake, who as CEO brought Home Depot through a massive data breach. Frank’s a former co-clerk of mine, a former Deputy Secretary of Energy, and the current host of Crazy Good Turns, a podcast about people who have found remarkable, even crazy, ways to help others. In

In this episode’s interview we ask whether the midterm elections are likely to suffer as much foreign hacking and interference as we saw in 2016. The answer, from Christopher Krebs, Under Secretary for National Protection and Programs Directorate (soon to be the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), is surprisingly comforting, though hardly guaranteed. Briefly, it’s beginning to look as though the Russians (and maybe the Iranians) are holding their fire for the main event in 2020.


Continue Reading Episode 236: Twitterlaw and the Khashoggi killing

I interview Duncan Hollis, another Steptoe alumnus patrolling the intersection of international law and cybersecurity. With Matt Waxman, Duncan has written an essay on why the US should make the Proliferation Security Initiative a model for international rulemaking for cybersecurity. Since “coalition of the willing” was already taken, we settle on “potluck policy” as shorthand for the proposal. To no one’s surprise, Duncan and I disagree about the value of international law in the field, but we agree on the value of informal, agile, and “potluck” actions on the world stage. In support, I introduce Baker’s Law of International Institutions: “The secretariat always sees the United States as its natural enemy.”

At the end, Duncan mentions in passing his work with Microsoft on international rulemaking, and I throw down on “Brad Smith’s godforsaken proposal.” Brad, if you are willing to come on the podcast to defend that proposal, I’ve promised Duncan a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug.


Continue Reading Episode 224 with Duncan Hollis: Do we need an international “potluck” cyber coalition?