The Cyberlaw Podcast

The Cyberlaw Podcast: The Trustbusters Come for Big Tech

By Stewart Baker
Tuesday, June 29, 2021, 9:30 AM

This episode offers an economical overview of the six antitrust reform bills reported out of the House Judiciary Committee last week. Michael Weiner and Mark MacCarthy give us the top line for all six (though only four would make substantial new policy). We then turn quickly to the odd-couple alliances supporting and opposing the bills, including my brief cameo appearance, in Rep. Jim Jordan’s opposition, on the gratifying ground (ok, among others) that Microsoft had never explained its suppression of my recent LinkedIn post. On the whole, I think Rep. Jordan is right; there’s very little in these bills that will encourage a diversity of viewpoints on social media or among its “trust and safety” bureaucrats.

Nick Weaver trashes the FBI for its prosecution of AnMing Hu. I’m more sympathetic, but neither of us thinks this will end well for the bureau or the China Initiative.

Adam Candeub makes his second appearance and does a fine job unpacking three recent decisions on the scope of Section 230. The short version: Facebook only partly beat the rap for sex trafficking in the Texas Supreme Court; SnapChat got its head handed to it in the speed filter case; and all the Socials won but faced persuasive dissents in a case over assistance to terrorist groups.

The long version: Silicon Valley has sold the courts a bill of goods on Section 230 for reasons that sounded good when the Internet was shiny and democratic and new. Now that disillusion has set in, the sweeping subsidy conferred by the courts is looking a lot less plausible. The wheels aren’t coming off Section 230 yet, but the paint is peeling, and Big Tech’s failure to get their reading of the law blessed by the Supreme Court ten years ago is going to cost them—mainly because their reading is inconsistent with some basic rules of statutory interpretation.

Nick and I engage on the torture indictments of executives who sold internet wiretapping capabilities to the Qaddafi regime.

Mark is unable to hose down my rant over Canada’s bone-stupid effort to impose Canadian content quotas on the internet and to write an online hate speech law of monumental vagueness.

And in closing, Nick and I bid an appropriately raucous and conflicted adieu to the Hunter Thompson of Cybersecurity: John McAfee.

And more!

Download the 368th Episode (mp3)

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