The Cyberlaw Podcast

The Biden administration has been aggressively pursuing antitrust cases against Silicon Valley giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook. This week it was Apple’s turn. The Justice Department (joined by several state AGs)  filed a gracefully written complaint accusing Apple of improperly monopolizing the market for “performance smartphones.” The market definition will be a weakness for the government throughout the case, but the complaint does a good job of identifying ways in which Apple has built a moat around its business without an obvious benefit for its customers.  The complaint focuses on Apple’s discouraging of multipurpose apps and cloud streaming games, its lack of message interoperability, the tying of Apple watches to the iPhone to make switching to Android expensive, and its insistence on restricting digital wallets on its platform.  This lawsuit will continue well into the next presidential administration, so much depends on the outcome of the election this fall.


Volt Typhoon is still in the news, Andrew Adams tells us, as the government continues to sound the alarm about Chinese intent to ravage American critical infrastructure in the event of a conflict.  Water systems are getting most of the attention this week.  I can’t help wondering how we expect the understaffed and underresourced water and sewage companies in this country to defeat sophisticated state-sponsored attackers. This leads Cristin and i to a discussion of how the SEC’s pursuit of CISO Tim Brown and demands for more security disclosures will improve the country’s cybersecurity.  Short answer: It won’t.


Cristin covers the legislative effort to force a divestiture of Tiktok. The bill has gone to the Senate, where it is moving slowly, if at all. Speaking as a parent of teenagers and voters, Cristin is not surprised. Meanwhile, the House has sent a second bill to the Senate by a unanimous vote. This one would block data brokers from selling American’s data to foreign adversaries. Andrew notes that the House bill covers data brokers.  Other data holders, like Google and Apple, would face a similar restriction, under executive order, so the Senate will have plenty of opportunity to deal with Chinese access to American personal data.


In the wake of the Murthy argument over administration jawboning in favor of censorship of mostly right-wing posts,  Andrew reports that the FBI has resumed outreach to social media companies, at least where it identifies foreign influence campaigns. And the FDA, which piled on to criticize ivermectin advocates, has withdrawn its dubious and condescending tweets.


 Cristin reports on the spyware agreement sponsored by the United States. It has collected several new supporters. Whether this will reduce spyware installations or simply change the countries that supply the spyware remains to be seen.

Direct download: The_Cyberlaw_Podcast_498.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT