A digital curtain descends across Europe

This episode is heavily focused on the fall of Europe’s digital curtain. Stewart Baker, the host, is absent from the mic. Gus Horwitz, Mark-MacCarthy and Mark-MacCarthy discuss the tech boycott which saw companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Adobe withdraw their services from Russia. Nick Weaver discusses how Russia has reacted against independent Russian media outlets. He also blocks access to websites from foreign media, including Facebook and BBC.  Gus reports onRussian authorities made an apparent decision to force all domains and servers in Russia to move Russian-language zones. This would result in the country being disconnected from the world wide web.

Mark describes the U.S.’s private decision by companies to expel Russian media from the systems. He also describes how DirecTV decided to abandon RT America and led to the closing of Russia 24-hour news channels. However, all RT operations and Sputnik websites were shut down by the EU. Nick questions if the EU’s enforcement system is capable of taking down all the sites. Gus and Dave discuss social media mythmaking about Ukraine’s war, including the Ghost of Kyiv. Mark wonders if fiction could be used to help maintain morale in the besieged nation.

Dave Aitel reminds the audience that even though there are no cyberattacks against the war, it is possible that more could be happening below the surface. Aitel also gives details on the attack against the Conti Ransomware group that affected their support of Russia. Nick believes that cryptocurrency does not possess the necessary volume to be able to bypass the Russian financial sanctions. Sultan Meghji believes that financial sanctions will speed the decline of the dollar as world’s reserve currency. However, he is skeptical about whether a principle-based restriction will be able to stop that trend.

A couple of other events took place, such as the War in Ukraine and President Biden’s inaugural state of the Union address. Gus notes that tech was an important topic in the speech. Gus notes the fact that Frances Haugen (the Facebook whistleblower) was in attendance. This highlighted Biden’s support for stronger online child privacy laws. He also noted that Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger allowed the President to present his plans to increase domestic chip production.

Dave and Sultan talk about the cybersecurity bill, which was unanimously approved by the Senate. The bill would mandate that companies operating in crucial sectors report ransomware and cyberattacks to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. The FBI is also analyzed to see if companies are concerned about giving information. Dave thinks the bills that were discussed in this week’s House Commerce hearing to hold Big Tech accountable, respond to widespread public concerns about tech’s surveillance business model, but still he thinks they are unlikely to  become law.

Gus states that Amazon’s certificate that it had responded to Federal Trade Commission inquiries regarding its $6.5 billion MGM merge triggers the agency’s deadline. He says that it is not Amazon’s fault that there are 2-2 among Republicans and Democrats at the agency that could prevent them from opposing the merger. Mark notes that Alvaro Bedoya and Gigi Son were nominated to the Federal Trade Commission by the Senate Commerce committee. But, the Senate will probably take several months to act on them.

Nick also argues that some measures within the European Commission’s proposed digital identification framework would have the reverse effect and potentially lead to a significant weakening of web security.

We have a couple of announcements to make about the podcast.  Our listeners are invited to view episode 400 in real-time as we celebrate.  The podcast will be broadcast at 12:01 p.m. Eastern on March 28th. We are still working out the details of how listeners can view and participate.  We’ll be discussing that more soon, but now is the perfect time to start marking your calendars.

While we are still considering doing an episode in-person, the lingering covid restrictions have forced us to postpone that event for several months.

Finally, Jacob Nelson is leaving us and we are looking for someone to replace him.  It is a part-time job, but it pays a good amount. You can meet the podcast’s cast by thinking deeply about cyberlaw and mastering podcasting. This could be your job.  Send your CV to By early summer, we’ll have made our final decision.

Listen to the 397th episode (mp3)

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