Wiretapping the Pope

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In breaking news from 1995, the Washington Post takes advantage of a leaked CIA history paper to retell the remarkable tale of Crypto AG, a purveyor of encryption products to dozens of governments – and allegedly a wholly controlled subsidiary of US and German intelligence. Nick Weaver, Paul Rosenzweig, and I are astonished at the derring-do and unapologetic enthusiasm for intelligence collection. I mean, really: The Pope?

This week’s interview is with Jonathan Reiber, a writer and strategist in Oakland, California, and former Chief Strategy Officer for Cyber Policy and Speechwriter at the Department of Defense, currently senior advisor at Technology for Global Security and visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. His recent report offers a candid view of strained relations between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon. The interview explores the reasons for that strain, the importance of bridging the gap and how that can best be done.

Nick reports that four PLA members have been indicted over the Equifax breach. He speculates that the US government is sending a message by disclosing a photo of one soldier that appears to have been taken by his own webcam. Paul and I note that China’s motivation for the hack was very likely the assembly of records on Americans not dissimilar to the records we know the Chinese keep on Uighurs – which are extraordinarily detailed and surprisingly artisanal.

The arrest of a Bitcoin mixer allows Nick to explain how Bitcoin mixing services work and why they’re illegal.

Paul lays out the potentially serious impact of Amazon’s lawsuit to stop a $10 billion Microsoft-DOD cloud contract. We note that Amazon wants to take testimony from President Trump. Thanks to his Twitter habit, we conclude, that’s not out of the question.

I preview my remarks at a February 19 Justice Department workshops on Section 230. I will reprise my article in Lawfare and the encryption debate with Nick Weaver that inspired it. And I hope to dig as well into the question whether Section 230 provides too much protection for Silicon Valley’s censors. Speaking of which, Jeff Bezos’s company has joined the censors but won’t tell us which books it’s suppressing.

Nick and I give a favorable review to CISA’s new #Protect2020 election strategy. We search for deeper meaning in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority’s (IANA’s) failure to complete its Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) root key signing ceremony because of… a physical safe. And we all take a moment to mock the latest vote-by-phone snake-oil app seller, Voatz.

Download the 300th 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.

302 episodes