The Cyberlaw Podcast: Interview with Mara Hvistendahl

By Stewart Baker
Monday, January 8, 2018, 4:53 PM

While the U.S. was transfixed by posturing over the Trump presidency, China has been building the future. Chances are you’ll find one part of that future–social credit scoring–both appalling in principle and irresistible in practice. That at least is the lesson I draw from our interview of , National Fellow at New America and author of on the allure, defects and mechanics of China’s emerging social credit system.

In the news roundup, dives deep on while I try to draw policy and litigation implications from the debacle. TL;DR -this is bad, but the class actions will settle for pennies. Oh, and xkcd has .

I note that U.S. Customs and Border Protection under Trump has imposed . So naturally the press is all “.” No good deed unpunished, as they say.

Maury Shenk explains to regulate cyberspace in the name of fighting Russian electoral interference and fake news. The Germans, meanwhile, have on the internet. Predictably, it looks as though hate speech is winning.

In the litigation outrage of the month, a company called Keeper, a password manager developer, got caught distributing software with a security flaw. So they did what any security-conscious company would–they sued the website that publicized the flaw for libel. It’s a crappy suit, and we should all hope they end up assessed with costs and fees. But the real question is this: Google found and disclosed the flaw, while Microsoft distributed Keeper to its users. When will they file as amici to say that no company with a mature security model files STFU libel suits against people who point out legitimate security problems? TL;DR–Keeper: Loser.

Finally, Hal Martin pleads guilty to one of twenty-plus counts and takes a ten-year sentence. So far, so ordinary in the world of plea bargaining. But as Nick points out, this wasn’t a bargain. Martin can still be tried and sentenced on all the other counts. And it effectively stipulates the maximum sentence for the one count he’s pleading guilty to. There must be a strategy here, but we can’t say for sure what it is.

As always The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Send your questions, suggestions for interview candidates or topics to [email protected] or leave a message at +1 202 862 5785.

. We are also on , , and (available for Android and Google Chrome)!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of the firm.