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

Podcast 120European hypocrisy on data protection is a lot like the weather.  Everyone complains about it but no one does anything about it.  Until today.

In episode 120, we announce the launch of the Europocrisy Prize.  With the support of TechFreedom, we’re seeking tax deductible donations for a prize designed to encourage the proliferation of Schrems-style

We devote episode 100 to “section 702” intelligence – the highly productive counterterrorism program that collects data on foreigners from data stored on US servers.  What’s remarkable about the program is its roots:  President Bush’s decision to ignore the clear language of FISA and implement collection without judicial approval.  That decision has now been ratified by Congress – and will be ratified again in 2017 when the authority for it ends.  But what does it say about the future of intelligence under law that our most productive innovation in intelligence only came about because the law was broken?  Our guest for the episode, David Kris, thinks that President Bush might have been able to persuade Congress to approve the program in 2001 if he’d asked.  David may be right; he is a former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, the coauthor of the premier sourcebook on intelligence under law, “National Security Investigations & Prosecutions,” and the General Counsel of Intellectual Ventures.  But what I find surprising is how little attention has been paid to the question.  How about it?  Is George Bush to FISA what Abraham Lincoln was to habeas corpus?

My interview with David leaves Lincoln to the history books and instead focuses entirely on section 702.  David lays out the half-dozen issues likely to be addressed during the debate over reauthorization, including the risk that the legislation will attract efforts to limit overseas signals intelligence, now governed mainly by Executive Order 12333.  He then pivots to the issues he thinks Congress should grapple with but probably won’t – from the growing ambiguity of location as a proxy for US citizenship to the failure of current intelligence law to adequately extract intelligence from the technologies that have emerged since 9/11, particularly social media and advertising technology.
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Our guest is Amit Ashkenazi, whom I interviewed while in Israel.  Amit is Legal Advisor of The Israel National Cyber Bureau and a former general counsel to Israel’s data protection agency.  Israel is drafting its own cybersecurity act, and we discuss what if anything that country can learn from the US debate – and what the US can learn from Israel’s cybersecurity experience.  We explore the challenges Israel will face in trying to start a new cybersecurity agency, how Israel strikes the balance between security and privacy, the risks of using contractors to staff a new agency, the danger of stating agency authorities with too much specificity, and why the agency is likely to look more like DHS than the FBI.
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If there really is another crypto war in Washington, then this week’s podcast features several war correspondents and at least one victim of PTSD.  Our guest is Melanie Teplinsky, former cybersecurity lawyer at Steptoe, adjunct professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, advisory board member for Crowdstrike, and a regular columnist on privacy

How do you graduate as a conservative with two Harvard degrees? We learn this and much more from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), our guest for episode 96 .  We dive deep with the Senator on the 215 metadata program and its USA FREEDOM Act replacement.  We ask what the future holds for the 702 program, one of the most important counterterrorism programs and just entering yet another round of jockeying over renewal; Sen. Cotton has already come out in favor of making the program permanent.  To round things out, Sen. Cotton assesses the risks of Going Dark for our intelligence community and the difficulties that the Safe Harbor negotiations pose for US intelligence.
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We’re back from hiatus with a boatload of news and a cautiously libertarian technologist guest in Nick Weaver of the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley.  To start Episode 95 of the podcast, Michael Vatis and I plumb the meaning of the Cyber Security Act’s passage.  The big news?  Apparently Santa is real, state

Tony Cole, Stewart Baker, Ellen Nakashima, Jason Weinstein
Tony Cole, Stewart Baker, Ellen Nakashima, Jason Weinstein

Did China’s PLA really stop hacking US companies for commercial secrets? And does it matter? In episode 92, we ask those questions and more of two experts on the topic ‒ Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima, who has broken many stories on

The NSA metadata program that is set to expire in two weeks was designed to provide early warning of a terror attack planned in a foreign safe haven and carried out inside the United States.  Those are some of the most deadly terror attacks we’ve seen, from 9/11 to Mumbai.  And now Paris.

So should the United States be terminating the 215 program just as the Paris attacks show why it was created?  That’s the question I ask in Episode 89 of the podcast as we watch the DC circuit cut short Judge Leon’s undignified race to give the program one last kick before it’s terminated. 
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