Our guest for episode 44 of the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast is Sal Stolfo, Professor at Columbia University’s Computer Science Department and CEO of Allure Software. Stolfo brings an attacker’s sensibility to network security approaches usually dominated by defensive thinking. His approach to computer security includes flooding the network with plausible fake documents wired to alarm when touched by a user. The alarm, in turn, shuts down a user’s access and prompts for a second form of authentication. Documents that are successfully exfiltrated persistently attempt to beacon back to the home network, betraying the attacker and his customers long after the hack. He’s already deploying some of these concepts commercially. It’s the kind of active defense even the Justice Department should love.
In our news roundup, This Week in NSA is dominated by speculation that the 215 program will never die. Conventional wisdom says that the metadata program will ride into the sunset on June 1, 2015. But a “transition” note could allow the program to last for years. Meanwhile, the NSA director, Admiral Mike Rogers, is warning that China and one or two other countries have the ability to bring down the electric grid in the United States.
The FTC has gone to mediation with Wyndham, but no one is betting that the mediation will succeed. And the FTC’s settlement with TRUSTe puts the privacy certification company under the FTC’s thumb for years.
Telephone companies have long been the most government-friendly of technology firms, but that may be changing. Now even the heir of Ma Bell’s name, AT&T, has filed an amicus brief demanding clearer standards before the government could get access to location information.
One solution is for the government to cut out the middleman and get the location information directly from the consumer – by offering fake cell towers to connect to. But that tactic, and the secrecy surrounding “stingray” collection, has its costs. Baltimore has abandoned a criminal case to keep from describing the technology and how it’s used. And a North Carolina judge has unsealed hundreds of stingray orders.
In the words of the old country song, how can I forget you if you won’t go away? Much as we wish the right to be forgotten would go away, that’s looking less and less likely. Google’s Global Privacy Council, Peter Fleischer, has disclosed new details about how the search giant administers the right. And Norway has (unsurprisingly) followed the rest of Europe in adopting the doctrine. But most troubling is the news from France, where Google is facing fines of €1000 a day for refusing to apply a French defamation takedown order to its Google.com domain – or, more accurately, for not letting a French judge censor what Americans can read.
Finally, in our first item derived from a listener request (h/t Lee Baumgardner), we look at the regulatorily challenged transport company, Uber, and its potential liability for a steady stream of privacy flaps, including its unwisely but appropriately named “God Mode.”