The Cyberlaw Podcast

The Cyberlaw Podcast: Game Play Trumps Chinese National Security

By Stewart Baker
Wednesday, June 8, 2022, 9:43 AM

If you’ve been worrying about how a leaky U.S. government can possibly compete with China’s combination of economic might and autocratic government, this episode of the Cyberlaw Podcast has a few scraps of good news. The funniest, supplied by Dave Aitel, is the tale of the Chinese gamer who was so upset at the online performance of China’s tanks that he demanded an upgrade. When it didn’t happen, he bolstered his argument by leaking apparently classified details of Chinese tank performance. I suggest that U.S. intelligence should be subtly degrading the online game performance of other Chinese weapons systems we need more information about. 

There may be similar comfort in the story of Gitee, a well-regarded Chinese competitor to Github that ran into a widespread freeze on open source projects. Jane Bambauer and I speculate that the source of the freeze was government objections to something in the code or the comments in several projects. But guessing at what it takes to avoid a government freeze will handicap China’s software industry and make western companies more competitive than one would expect.

In other news, Dave unpacks the widely reported and largely overhyped story of Cyber Command conducting “hunt forward” operations in support of Ukraine. Mark MacCarthy digs into Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s opinion explaining why he would not have reinstated the district court injunction against Texas’s social media regulation. Jane and I weigh in. The short version is that the Alito opinion offers a plausible justification for upholding the law. It may not be the law now, but it could be the law if Justice Alito can find two more votes. And getting those votes may not be all that hard for a decision imposing more transparency requirements on social media companies.

Mark and Jane also dig deep on the substance and politics of national privacy legislation. Short version: House Democrats have made substantial concessions in the hopes of getting a privacy bill enacted before they must face what’s expected to be a hostile electorate. But Senate Democrats may not be willing to swallow those concessions, and Republican members may think they will do better to wait until after November. Impressed by the concessions, Jane and Mark hold out hope for a deal this year. I don’t.

Meanwhile, Jane notes, California is driving forward with regulations under its privacy law that are persuading Republicans that preemption has lots of value for business. 

Finally, revisiting two stories from earlier weeks, Dave notes 

Download the 410th Episode (mp3) 

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