Waging war in a networked age

The episode covers how the modern media influence what has been a huge shooting war between Russia & Ukraine. Dmitri alperovitch provides a comprehensive overview. The initial stages of cyberwar between Ukraine and Volodymyr Zelensky (the President of Ukraine) were won by broad Western support. This translated into greater commitment from the West using brief videos taken in downtown Kyiv, at a moment when Zelensky was likely to be running for the border. At the end, the story of determined Ukrainian resistance against hapless Russian arrogance had been set in stone. Zelensky’s inability to dial into EU ministers’ meetings casually and to just as casually state that this may be the last time these ministers see him alive permanently changed Europe’s official perspective on the conflict. Putin’s failure in seizing Ukraine’s capital, and telecom facilities on the first day of fighting may ensure a long-lasting conflict.

Russia attempts to control Russian media by blocking Twitter and Facebook. It’s basically telling these companies they must distribute pro-Russian media to the West if Russia wants them to have a future. Dmitri believes that this price Silicon Valley is willing to pay in order to have access to a country with three banks and three companies already restricted by Western sanctions. Jane Bambauer shares the details about Russia’s narrative control efforts and how they failed.

What about cyber-attacks? Was that what we were led to believe in the conflict between technically skilled adversaries? Dmitri, Nate Jones, and Dmitri both agree that although ransomware has been distributed and networks have been wiped out, it is not clear how they will impact the battle. Russia appears not to have sent an A-team in order to destroy any critical infrastructure of Ukraine. While Western nations are pledging weapons and additional sanctions to Russia, Russian cyber reprisals have not been as frequent, possibly because Western counter-reprisals remain in reserve.

However, despite the unprecedented economic sanctions and export controls, Putin still has the initiative. None of the members are eager to find out what Putin’s reaction will be to Russia’s initial humiliations on the battlefield and in cyberspace.

The EU is not yet able to exploit U.S. industries’ national security in order to gain a competitive edge over them, according other tech news. Jane and Nate discuss the European Data Act. It is best described by Jane as an attempt to create a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for personal data. As always, the goal is to regulate Europe’s tech industry.

Nate and me dig into the a Foreign AffairsChris Inglis is the National Cyber Director for the Biden Administration. The article calls for the creation of a Cyber Social Contract between industry and government.  The word “regulation” is not found when I press CTRL-F. It’s likely that the White House copy editors are to blame. But the editorial clearly believes that greater regulation will be the best way to ensure public-private cooperation.

Jane retells an old story that was published on the renowned “Rest of World”.  It turns out that corrupt and abusive companies and governments have better tools for controlling their image than Vladimir Putin – all thanks to the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress, which approved GDPR and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act respectively. These laws are great for suppressing news stories that can make big-names in third world countries uncomfortable. The audience is reminded of another Baker’s Law, “Privacy Law principally protects the privileged and powerful.”

In closing, Jane and I catch us up on the IRS’s latest position on face recognition – and the wrongheadedness of the NGOs campaigning against the technology.

Listen to the 396th episode (mp3)

Announcement:  We’re thinking about having a live recording of episode 400, maybe on the web and maybe in person here in Washington.  This would occur on March 28, 2022. If you want to attend, please send us a message to that effect at

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