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Mistrusting Google

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We kick off the episode with This Week in Mistrusting Google: Klon Kitchen points to a Wall Street Journal story about all the ways Google tweaks its search engine to yield results that look machine-made but aren’t. He and I agree that most of these tweaks have understandable justifications – but you have to trust Google not to misuse them. And increasingly no one does. The same goes for Google’s foray into amassing and organizing health data on millions of Americans. It’s a nothingburger with mayo, unless you mistrust Google. Since mistrusting Google is a growth industry, the report is getting a lot of attention, including from HHS investigators. Matthew Heiman explains, and when he’s done, my money is on Google surviving that investigation comfortably. The capital of mistrusting Google, of course, is Brussels, and not surprisingly, Maury Shenk tells us that the EU has forced Google to modify its advertising protocols to exclude data on sites visited by its customers.

A Massachusetts federal district court says suspicionless device searches at borders are not okay. Matthew and I dig into the details. Bottom line: Requiring reasonable suspicion for electronics searches isn’t a tough standard, but if CBP needs a reasonable suspicion that the phone contains contraband, we aren’t going to see a lot of searches. But that’s only good news for US citizens. Searches of foreign travelers’ phones can also be justified as a search for evidence that they should not be admitted to the country, and reasonable suspicion that such evidence will be found on a phone is not hard to come by.

The US Supreme Court will be deciding whether APIs can be copyrighted (or whether copying them is fair use). I put my Supreme Court maven cred on the line, predicting that the Court is going to reverse the federal circuit and reject Oracle’s claim that it can extract hefty rent payments from Google for use of Oracle APIs.

An injunction against disseminating violent and inciting speech is causing angst in Hong Kong. Maury explains why. And Klon unpacks the story of the Chinese hackers who’ve been spying on the US National Association of Manufacturers.

Maury and I throw shade at the federal court’s claim that it’s arbitrary and capricious for the Trump Administration to drop an unenforceable ban on the export through publication of 3D gun plans.

In a lightning round, no one should be surprised that Microsoft is making CCPA the law of the land. Nor that Amazon sells a lot of stuff directly from China. Or, frankly, that the hullabaloo over “sophisticated” DDoS attacks on British political parties is just campaign grist.

Advertisement (you knew it would happen eventually): Steptoe is hosting a complimentary webinar on Tuesday, December 10. We’ll be talking about the impacts on retailers of the newly implemented California Consumer Privacy Act and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. This is a fast-moving area of the law. You can find out more and register here.

Download the 288th 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.

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About The Author

Stewart Baker

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit https://reason.com

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