The NSA’s use of call detail records to spot cross-border terror plots has a long history. It began life in deepest secrecy, became public (and controversial) after Edward Snowden’s leaks and was then reformed in the USA Freedom Act. Now it’s up for renewal, and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, or PCLOB, has weighed in with a deep report on how the program has functioned – and why NSA has suspended it. In this episode I interview Travis LeBlanc, a PCLOB Member, about the report and the program. Travis is a highly effective advocate, bringing me around on several issues, including whether the program should be continued and even whether the authority to revive it would be useful. It’s a superb guide to a program whose renewal is currently being debated (against a March 15 deadline!) in Congress.


Continue Reading Episode 305: NSA’s call detail records program: Travis LeBlanc of the PCLOB

Brad Smith is President of Microsoft and author (with Carol Ann Browne) of Tools and Weapons: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age. The book is a collection of vignettes of the tech policy battles in the last decade or so. Smith had a ringside seat for most of them, and he recounts what he learned in a compelling and good-natured way in the book – and in this episode’s interview. Starting with the Snowden disclosures and the emotional reaction of Silicon Valley, through the CLOUD Act, Brad Smith and Microsoft displayed a relatively even keel while trying to reflect the interests of its many stakeholders. In that effort, Smith makes the case for more international cooperation in regulating digital technology. Along the way, he discloses how the Cyberlaw Podcast’s own Nate Jones and Amy Hogan-Burney became “Namy,” achieving a fame and moniker inside Microsoft that only Brangelina has achieved in the wider world. Finally, he sums up Microsoft’s own journey in the last quarter century as a recognition that humility is a better long-term strategy than hubris.


Continue Reading Episode 289: Brad Smith on Microsoft’s Journey from Hubris to Humility

The theme this week is China’s growing confidence in using cyberweapons in new and sophisticated ways, as the US struggles to find an answer to China’s growing ambition to dominate technology. Our interview guest, Chris Bing of Reuters, talks about his deep dive story on Chinese penetration of managed service providers like HP Enterprise – penetration that allowed them access to hundreds of other companies that rely on managed service providers for most of their IT. Most chilling for the customers are strong suggestions that the providers often didn’t provide notice of the intrusions to their customers – or that the providers’ contracts may have prevented their customers from launching quick and thorough investigations when their own security systems detected anomalous behavior originating with the providers. Chris also tells the story of an apparent “Five Eyes” intrusion into Yandex, the big Russian search engine.


Continue Reading Episode 270: China’s cyber offense comes of age

Have the Chinese hired American lawyers to vet their cyberespionage tactics – or just someone who cares about opsec? Probably the latter, and if you’re wondering why China would suddenly care about opsec, look no further than Supermicro’s announcement that it will be leaving China after a Bloomberg story claiming that the company’s

On Episode 254 of The Cyberlaw Podcast, Stewart spends a few days off the grid, and David Kris, Maury Shenk, and Brian Egan extol the virtues of data privacy and the European Union in his absence.

Maury interviews James Griffiths, a journalist based in Hong Kong and the author of the new book, The Great Firewall of China: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet.


Continue Reading Episode 254: Skating on Stilts without Baker

Podcast 114Our guest for episode 114 is General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and CIA; he also confirms that he personally wrote every word of his fine book, Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror.   In a sweeping interview, we cover everything from Jim Comey’s performance at the AG’s hospital bedside (and in the Clinton email investigation) to whether the missed San Diego 9/11 calls were discovered before or after the 215 program was put in place.  Along the way, we settle the future of Cyber Command,  advise the next President on intelligence, and lay out the price the intelligence community is paying for becoming so darned good at hunting terrorists.
Continue Reading Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with General Hayden

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.
Continue Reading Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast – Interview with Senator Tom Cotton