The Cyberlaw Podcast

The Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast: An Interview with James Baker

By Stewart Baker
Tuesday, June 23, 2015, 11:29 AM

James Baker, General Counsel of the FBI, is our guest on this week’s podcast. He fearlessly tackles the FBI’s aerial surveillance capabilities, stingrays, “Going Dark,” encryption, and the bureau’s sometimes controversial attribution of cyberattacks.  But he prudently punts on the Hack of the Century, refusing to reveal details of the FBI investigation into the Houston Astros network intrusion.  Alan Cohn leaps into the breach, starting with a reminder for me of which sport the Astros play.

In the news roundup, Michael Vatis and I highlight growing threats to free speech, from France’s censorship of what Americans read, to the European Court of Human Rights’ claim to punish even forums for allowing speech it deems hateful.  And in a move that would have tickled George Orwell’s funny bone, the Right to Be Forgotten returns to Russia, original home of the memory hole.

I mock US CTO Tony Scott for descending to “privacy theater” in requiring SSL encryption for all government websites, even those that require none.

Michael Vatis explains the court’s recent ruling in the Sony employees’ breach law suit, which will continue despite a lack of demonstrated injury to most individual employees.

I express satisfaction that hacking back has taken on a life of its own, praised by multiple witnesses (none of them me) at a financial services subcommittee hearing on the Hill.

Finally, in other news, Snowdenista “journalists” reveal their values through their choices.  Jacob Applebaum appeals to the Chinese to release stolen OPM files to Wikileaks, evidently hoping that harm to US security can be exacerbated by injury to the privacy of government employees.  And given a choice between NSA and a Russian antivirus firm widely suspected of ties to Russian intelligence, Glenn Greenwald stands up for the Russian (and, apparently, the view that copyright deserves better legal protection than either personal property or privacy).

As always, send your questions and suggestions for interview candidates to [email protected].  If you’d like to leave a message by phone, contact us at +1 202 862 5785.

Download the seventy-second episode (mp3).

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