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Stewart Baker
Former government official now practicing law
Recent Activity
Our interview this week focuses on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and features Lauren Willard, counsel to the Attorney General and a moving force behind the well-received Justice Department report on section 230 reform. Among the surprises: Just how strong the case is for FCC rule-making jurisdiction over section 230. In the news, David Kris and Paul Rosenzweig talk through the fallout from Schrems II, the Court of Justice decision that may yet cut off all data flows across the Atlantic. Paul and I speculate on the new election interference threat being raised by House Democrats. We also pause to praise the Masterpiece Theatre of intelligence reports on Russian cyber-attacks. Nick Weaver draws our attention to a remarkable lawsuit against Apple. Actually, it’s not the lawsuit, it’s the conduct by Apple that is remarkable, and not in a good way. Apple gift cards are being used to cash out scams that defraud consumers in the US, and Apple’s position is that, gee, it sucks to be a scam victim but that’s not Apple’s problem, even though Apple is in a position to stop these scams and actually keeps 30% of the proceeds. I point out that Western Union... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
The decision of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in Schrems II is gobsmacking in its mix of judicial imperialism and Eurocentric hypocrisy. The decision invalidates the Privacy Shield agreement between the U.S. and the EU on the ground that U.S. protections for individual rights are not "adequate," by which the court means not "essentially equivalent" to the rights provided to individuals under European law. It manages to do this while acknowledging that the court and the EU have no authority to elaborate or enforce these rights against any of the EU's member states. That, the court says, is "irrelevant." It is making the rules for benighted foreign lands like Canada and the United States, not for Europeans. Freed from the prospect that any of the governments that appoint them will have to live with these rules, the judges of the CJEU declare that large chunks of U.S. intelligence law—including some of America's most productive and essential authorities, such as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)—are beyond the pale. In theory, this means that the United States is a privacy-inadequate nation, and any company sending personal data here may be fined under the General Data Protection Regulation... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
The big news of the week was the breathtakingly arrogant decision of the European Court of Justice, announcing that it would set the rules for how governments could use personal data in fighting crime and terrorism. Even more gobsmacking, the court decided to impose those rules on every government on the planet – except the members of the European Union, which are beyond its reach. Oh, and along the way the court blew up the Privacy Shield, exposing every transatlantic business to massive liability, and put the EU on a collision course with China over China's most sensitive domestic security operations. This won’t end well. It's the CJEU's version of our Court's Dred Scott ruling. Paul Hughes helps me make sense of the decision. In the interview, I interview Darrell West, co-author of Turning Point - Policymaking in the Era of Artificial Intelligence..We mostly agree on where AI is already making a difference, where it's still hype, and how it will transform war. Where we disagree is over the policy prescriptions for avoiding the worst outcomes. I disagree with the relentless focus of the book (and every other book in recent years) on the questionable claim of AI bias, and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
Our interview today is with Bruce Schneier, who has coauthored a paper about how to push security back up the Internet-of-things supply chain: The Reverse Cascade: Enforcing Security on the Global IoT Supply Chain. His solution is hard on IOT affordability and hard on big retailers and other middlemen, who will face new liabilities, but we conclude that it’s achievable and maybe necessary. In fact, the real question is who’ll get there first, a combination of DHS’s CISA and the FTC or the California Secretary of State. In the News Roundup Megan Stifel (@MeganStifel), Nate Jones (@n8jones81), and David Kris (@DavidKris) and I discuss TikTok's unenviable position -- holding the ball at the wrong end of the court as the clock winds down to 00:00. Every week seems to bring a new administration initiative that could hurt or kill TikTok's US business. The government’s options include a simple ban on TikTok sales to US buyers based on a finding that the company is a threat to national security or the security of Americans. That’s the applicable legal standard under Executive Order 13873; it's brand-new (the regs aren’t even final yet) but it relies on tools that have long been used... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
In the News Roundup, Dave Aitel (@daveaitel), Mark MacCarthy (@Mark_MacCarthy), and Nick Weaver (@ncweaver) and I discuss how French and Dutch investigators pulled off the coup of the year this April, when they totally pwned a shady “secure phone” system used by large numbers of European criminals. Nick Weaver explains that hacking the phones of Entrochat users gave the police access to big troves of remarkably candid criminal text conversations. And, I argue, it shows a flaw in the argument of encryption defenders who say that restricting Silicon Valley encryption will send criminals to less savory companies. That's true, but sleazeball companies are inherently more prone to compromise, as happened here. This week the EARN IT Act went from Washington-controversial to Washington consensus in the usual way. It was amended into mush. Indeed, there’s an argument that, by guaranteeing that nothing bad will happen to social platforms who adopt end-to-end encryption, the successful Leahy amendment actually makes e2e crypto more attractive than it already is under current law. That’s my view, but Mark MacCarthy still thinks the twitching corpse of EARN IT might cause harm by allowing states to adopt stricter liability for child sex abuse material. He also thinks... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
For the first time in twenty years, the Justice Department is finally free to campaign for the encryption access bill it has always wanted. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced the Lawful Access To Encrypted Data Act. (Ars Technica, Press Release) As Nick Weaver points out in the news roundup, this bill is not a compromise. It’s exactly what DOJ wants – a mandate that every significant service provider or electronic device maker build in the ability, when served with a warrant, to decrypt any data it has encrypted. In our interview, Under Secretary Chris Krebs, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, drops in for a chat on election security, cyberespionage aimed at coronavirus researchers, why CISA needs new administrative subpoena authority, the value of secure DNS, and how cybersecurity has changed in the three years since he took his job. Germany’s highest court has ruled that the German competition authority can force Facebook to obtain user consent for internal data sharing, to prevent abuse of a dominant position in the social networking market. Maury Shenk and I are dubious about the use of competition law for privacy enforcement. Those doubts could... Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
This is the week when the movement to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act got serious. The Justice Department released a substantive report suggesting multiple reforms. I was positive about many of them (my views here). Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has proposed a somewhat similar set of changes in his bill, introduced this week. Nate Jones and I dig into the provisions, and both of us expect interest from Democrats as well as Republicans. The National Security Agency has launched a pilot program to provide secure DNS resolver services for US defense contractors. If that’s such a good idea, I ask, why doesn’t everybody do it, and Nick Weaver tells us they can. Phil Reitinger’s Global Cyberalliance offers Quad9 for this purpose. Gus Hurwitz brings us up to date on a host of European cyberlaw developments, from terror takedowns (Reuters, Tech Crunch) to competition law to the rise of a disturbingly unaccountable and self-confident judiciary. Microsoft’s Brad Smith, meanwhile, wins the prize for best marriage of business self-interest and Zeitgeist in the twenty-first century. Hackers used LinkedIn’s private messaging feature to send documents containing malicious code which defense contractor employees were tricked into opening. Nick points out... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act seems to inspire bipartisan antipathy. Joe Biden said it “should be revoked, immediately,” and President Trump characteristically topped that by tweeting “REVOKE 230!” They’re both right, at least directionally. Section 230, which dates to 1996, shields platforms from civil liability stemming from third-party content on their sites. It has been central to the success of crowdsourced platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, protecting them from potentially staggering liability for the online misbehavior of their users. But by exempting the platforms from the usual rules of liability, Section 230 is also a kind of subsidy, and one that protects some of the biggest companies in the world from expensive litigation. Such a subsidy made more sense in 1996, when there were only 36 million internet users in the world. Now that 4.6 billion people regularly go online, it’s fair to ask why the U.S. should give internet platforms a sweeping exemption from the laws that govern everyone else. In recent years, more and more politicians on either side of the aisle have been pointedly asking this question, though perhaps for different reasons: Some Democrats still blame social media for making Trump’s election possible, while... Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
Our interview this week is with Chris Bing, a cybersecurity reporter with Reuters, and John Scott-Railton, Senior Researcher at Citizen Lab and PhD student at UCLA. John coauthored Citizen Lab’s report last week on BellTroX and Indian hackers for hire, and Chris reported for Reuters on the same organization’s activities – and criminal exposure – in the United States. The most remarkable aspect of the story is how thoroughly normalized the hacking of legal and lobbying opponents seems to have become, at least in parts of the US legal and investigative ecosystem. I suggest that instead of a long extradition battle, the US should give the head of BellTroX a ticket to the US and a guaranteed income for the next few years as a witness against his customers. In the news roundup, Nick Weaver tells the remarkable story of how Facebook funded an exploit aimed at taking down a particularly vile online abuser of young girls -- one who was rendered nearly invulnerable by his use of TAILS, the secure, thumb drive-based communication system (Vice, Gizmodo). This is a great story because it really doesn’t conform to any of the stilted narratives into which most internet security stories are... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
Our interview with Ben Buchanan begins with his report on how artificial intelligence may influence national security and cybersecurity. Ben’s quick takes: AI is better for defense than offense, and probably even better for propaganda. The fun part of the interview, in my view, is Ben’s explanation of how to poison the AI that’s trying to hack you – and the scary possibility that China is already experimenting with poisoning Silicon Valley’s content moderation AI. By popular request, we revisited a story we skipped last week; this time we do a pretty deep dive on the ruling that Capital One can’t claim attorney-client work product privilege in an intrusion response report that Mandiant prepared for the bank after the breach. Steptoe litigator Charles Michael and I talk about how IR firms and CISOs should respond to the decision, assuming it stands up on appeal. Maury Shenk notes the latest of about a hundred warnings, this time from Christopher Krebs, the director of DHS’s cybersecurity agency and the head of Britain’s GCHQ, that China’s intelligence service ­– and every other intelligence service on the planet – seem to be targeting COVID-19 research. I ask whether sauce for the Western goose should... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
This episode features an in-depth (and occasionally contentious) interview with Bart Gellman about his new book, Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State, which can be found on his website and on Amazon. I’m tagged in the book as having been sharply critical of Gellman’s Snowden stories, and I live up to the billing in this interview. He responds to my critique in good part. Gellman offers detailed insights into Edward Snowden’s motives and relationships to foreign governments, as well as how journalism – and journalistic lawyering – is done in the Big Leagues. Our news roundup focuses heavily on the Trump Administration’s executive order on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (Wall Street Journal – Washington Post). I end up debating all three of my co-panelists – Nate Jones, Nick Weaver, and Evelyn Douek, rejoining us on a particularly good day, given her expertise. We agree to disagree on whether Silicon Valley applies its rules in a fashion that discriminates against conservatives. More interesting is the rough consensus that Silicon Valley’s heavy influence over our speech is worth worrying about and that transparency is one of the better ways to discipline that influence. No one but... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
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In the 2020s, one fears, everyone will feature in a conspiracy theory for fifteen minutes. In an effort to get in front of this development, and the inevitable Twitter mob to follow, I will now disclose the secret symbol that I anticipate will drive future conspiracy theories about the Cyberlaw Podcast. Many readers are familiar with the podcasts's logo, shown to the right. Less familiar to readers under 70 is the image to the left. It is a 1957 cartoon published in Pravda, the Soviet Union's dominant newspaper, to mark the surprise launch of a Soviet satellite into earth orbit -- well ahead of anything the United States was able to do. It triumphantly shows little Soviet Sputnik beaming its signal back to a smiling world (well, as close to smiling as anyone in the Soviet Union ever seemed to get in public). It was a remarkable achievement, and one that the Soviets turned into a great propaganda coup. The similarities could be a complete coincidence uncovered by a listener who's also a Soviet history buff, but where's the fun in that? Future conspiracy buffs will surely find a secret message hidden in the podcast's choice of logo. But what... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
For all the passion it has unleashed, President Trump's executive order on section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is pretty modest in impact. It doesn't do anything to undermine the part of section 230 that protects social media from liability for the things that its users say. That's paragraph (1) of section 230(b), and the order practically ignores it. Instead, the order is all about paragraph (2), which protects platforms from liability when they remove or restrict certain content: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of … any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable." This makes some sense in terms of the President's grievance. He isn't objecting to Twitter's willingness to give a platform to people he disagrees with. He objects to Twitter's decision to cordon off his speech with a fact-check warning, as well as all the other occasions on which Twitter and other social media platforms have taken action against conservative speech. So it makes sense for him to focus on the... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
Our interview is with Mara Hvistendahl, investigative journalist at The Intercept and author of a new book, The Scientist and the Spy: A True Story of China, the FBI, and Industrial Espionage, as well as a deep WIRED article on the least known Chinese AI champion, iFlytek. Mara’s book raises questions about the expense and motivations of the FBI’s pursuit of commercial spying from China. In the News Roundup, Gus Hurwitz, Nick Weaver, and I wrestle with whether Apple’s lawsuit against Corellium is really aimed at the FBI. The answer looks to be affirmative, since an Apple victory would make it harder for contractors to find hackable flaws in the iPhone. Germany’s top court ruled that German intelligence can no longer freely spy on foreigners – or share intelligence with other western countries. The court seems to be trying to leave the door open to something that looks like intelligence collection, but the hurdles are many. Which reminds me that I somehow missed the 100th anniversary of the Weimar Republic. There’s Trouble Right Here in Takedown City. Gus lays out all the screwy and maybe even dangerous takedown decisions that came to light last week. YouTube censored epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski... Continue reading
Posted May 26, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
Our interview guest, Peter Singer, continues to write (with August Cole) what he calls "useful fiction"– thrillers that explore the real-world implications of emerging technologies. His latest is Burn-In: A Novel of the Real Robotic Revolution, to be released May 26, 2020. The thoroughly researched (and footnoted!) book is a painless way to understand the social and economic changes new AI and robotic technologies will make possible and their impact on actual human beings. The interview ranges widely over these policy implications, plus a few plot spoilers. In the News Roundup, David Kris covers the latest Congressional FISA Follies, leading me into a rant on the utter irresponsibility of subjecting national security authorities to regular expiration – and equally regular ransom demands from the least responsible elements of Congress. Speaking of FISA, it turns out that the December Pensacola shootings were hatched by al-Qaeda's Yemen franchise. Why are we only learning this in May? Because the evidence comes from an iPhone whose security Apple refused to find a way around. The FBI's self-help solution worked in the end, but not until the trail had gone cold. US-China decoupling is in overdrive this week. Nick Weaver talks about the move by... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
J.P. Morgan once responded to Teddy Roosevelt’s charge that his railway trust violated federal law by telling the President, “If we have done anything wrong, send your man to see my man, and we’ll fix it up.” That used to be the gold standard for monopolist arrogance in dealing with government, but Google and Apple have put J.P. Morgan in the shade with their latest instruction to the governments of the world: You can’t use our app to trace COVID-19 infections unless you promise not to use it for quarantine or law enforcement purposes. The two companies are able to dictate this policy because between them they have about 99% of the phone OS market. That’s more control than Morgan had of US railways, and their dominance apparently gives them the clout to send a message that improves on Morgan's: “If you think we’ve done something wrong, don’t bother to send your man; ours is too busy to meet.” Nate Jones and I discuss Silicon Valley overreach in this episode. (In that vein, I apologize unreservedly to John D. Rockefeller, to whom I mistakenly attributed the Morgan quote.) The sad result is that what began as a promising technological adjunct... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
We begin the news with a US measure to secure its supply chain for a critical infrastructure – the bulk power grid. David Kris unpacks a new Executive Order restricting purchases of foreign equipment for the grid. As with all these measures, China is the unspoken target. Nick Weaver, meanwhile, explains the remarkable extent of surveillance built into Xiaomi phones and questions the company's claim that it was merely acquiring pseudonymous ad-related data like others in the industry. It wouldn't be the Cyberlaw Podcast if we didn't wrangle over using mobile phones to combat the coronavirus. Mark MacCarthy says that several countries – Australia, the UK, and perhaps France – are deviating from the Gapple model for contact tracing. Several others, though, have bought in. India, meanwhile, is planning a much more government-driven approach to using phone apps to deal with the pandemic. Mark ventures into even more contested territory in response to an article in The Atlantic by Jack Goldsmith and Andrew Woods, who argue that China has won the debate with John Perry Barlow over whether the Internet will be a force for free speech. Mark and I more or less agree, which sends me off on a... Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
In today’s interview, I spar with Harriet Moynihan over the application of international law to cyberattacks, a topic on which she has written with clarity and in detail. We disagree politely but profoundly. I make the case that international law is distinct from what works in cyberspace and is inconsistent with either clarity or effectiveness in deterring cyberattacks. Harriet argues that international law has been a central principle of the post-1945 international system and one that has helped to keep a kind of peace among nations. It’s a good exchange. In the News Roundup, David Kris and I discuss the state of Team Telecom, which is taking unwonted (but probably not unwelcome) fire for not being tough enough on state-owned Chinese telecom firms. Predictably, Team Telecom is going with the flow, and reportedly seeking to knock four such firms out of the US market. Maury Shenk reports that Vietnam is suspected of hacking Chinese health authorities. In response to the accusations, the Vietnamese released what looks to me like a word-for-word clone of Chinese cyberespionage boilerplate denials. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the panda. Gapple’s design for a COVID-19 tracing app isn’t the best way to track infections,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
In this episode, I interview Thomas Rid about his illuminating study of Russian disinformation, Active Measures: The Secret History of Disinformation and Political Warfare. It lays out a century of Soviet, East European, and Russian disinformation, beginning with an elaborate and successful operation against the White Russian expatriate resistance to Bolshevik rule in the 1920s. Rid has dug into recently declassified material using digital tools that enable him to tell previously untold tales – the Soviets' remarkable success in turning opposition to US nuclear missiles in Europe into a mass movement (and the potential shadow it casts on the legendary Adm. Hyman Rickover, father of the US nuclear navy), the unimpressive record of US disinformation campaigns compared to the ruthless Soviet versions, and the fake American lobbyist (and real East German agent) who persuaded a West German conservative legislator to save Willy Brandt's leftist government. We close with two very different predictions about the kind of disinformation we'll see in the 2020 campaign. In the news, David Kris, Nick Weaver, and I trade perspectives on the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari on the question when it's a crime to access a computer r “in excess of authority.” I predict that... Continue reading
Posted Apr 21, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
Google and Apple have released specifications for how to use a mobile phone to track coronavirus infections. That’s good news. As the country moves toward at least partial resumption of normal life, we’re likely to need good tracking capabilities to avoid a second peak in infections, and that can’t be done without the cooperation of Google and Apple. But the more I study the design that these companies are promoting, the less attractive it looks. To be blunt, I think the companies were so eager to avoid criticism from privacy groups and Silicon Valley libertarians that they produced a design that raises far too many barriers to effectively tracing infections. The good news, though, is that Google and Apple won’t have the last word. The two companies are creating an absolutely essential set of tools, or APIs, that will allow other tracking apps to interact with phone operating systems. They’ve also sketched what might be described as the default tracking system that they intend to implement “while maintaining strong protections around user privacy.” This default system is less essential, and a good thing too. The Google/Apple default tracking system is seriously flawed, mainly because it elevates privacy over effectiveness. Luckily,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
The Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s report was released into the teeth of the COVID-19 crisis and hasn’t attracted the press it probably deserves. But the commissioners include four sitting Congressmen who plan to push for adoption of its recommendations. And the Commission is going to be producing more material – and probably more press attention – over coming weeks. In this episode, I interview Sen. Angus King, co-chair of the Commission, and Dr. Samantha Ravich, one of the commissioners. We focus almost exclusively on what the Commission’s recommendations mean for the private sector. The Commission has proposed a remarkably broad range of cybersecurity measures for business. The Commission recommends a new products liability regime for assemblers of final goods (including software) who don’t promptly patch vulnerabilities. It proposes two new laws requiring notice not only of personal data breaches but also of other significant cyber incidents. It calls for a federal privacy and security law – without preemption. It updates Sarbanes-Oxley to include cybersecurity principles. And lest you think the Commission is in love with liability, it also proposed tort immunities for critical infrastructure owners operating under government supervision during a crisis. The interviews cover all these proposals, plus the Commission’s... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
In this bonus episode, we explore Israel’s technology- and surveillance-heavy approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. In it, Matthew Waxman and I talk to Yuval Shany, a noted Israeli human rights expert and professor at Hebrew University. We cover the particularly fraught political crisis that the virus exacerbated, the use of Israel’s counterterrorism tools to trace contacts of infected individuals, and the significance of locational privacy in the face of a deadly contagion. Our thanks to both Nachum Braverman of Academic Exchange and Ben Wittes of Lawfare for making the interview possible. Download the 309th Episode (mp3). You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed. As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug! The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of their institutions, clients, friends, families, or pets. Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
David Kris, Paul Rosenzweig, and I dive deep on the big tech issue of the COVID-19 contagion: Whether (but mostly how) to use mobile phone location services to fight the virus. We cover the Israeli approach, as well as a host of solutions adopted in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and elsewhere. I’m a big fan of Singapore, which produced in a week an app that Nick Weaver thought would take a year. In our interview, evelyn douek, currently at the Berkman Klein Center and an SJD candidate at Harvard, takes us deep into content moderation. Displaying a talent for complexifying an issue we all want to simplify, she explains why we can’t live with social platform censorship and why we can’t live without it. She walks us through the growth of content moderation, from spam, through child porn, and on to terrorism and “coordinated inauthentic behavior” – the identification of which, evelyn assures me, does not require an existentialist dance instructor. Instead, it’s the latest and least easily defined category of speech to be suppressed by Big Tech. It’s a mare’s nest, but I, for one, intend to aggravate our new Tech Overlords for as long as possible. Returning to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
One of the keys to slowing a pandemic is to trace infections: Find one person who’s infected. Identify, test, and quarantine all his contacts. Then trace, test, and quarantine his contacts’ contacts. Repeat until you run out of potential victims. This is pretty much the strategy followed during the current coronavirus outbreak by countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. All three were faster off the mark than the U.S. or Europe, largely because their experience with SARS and MERS was so traumatic that they built the legal framework and the muscle memory to act quickly in the next outbreak. The U.S. didn’t take this approach, and it was particularly hampered by botched testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, from which we still haven’t completely recovered. Tests are becoming available much faster now, but widespread testing and tracing may not be feasible in places that have been hit hard, such as New York and New Jersey. In those states, more than 30 percent of the people tested have already been infected. But there are other states, such as New Mexico or Minnesota, where testing has been growing fast and infection... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2020 at Skating on Stilts
President Trump is growing so worried about the economic impact of covid-19 that he’s talking about drastic action, including ending the lockdown in states that haven’t seen lots of infections. He’s right to be worried and right to be looking for dramatic solutions. He may even be well-served in this case by his skepticism about giving government public health experts the last word on fateful economic decisions, for reasons I’ll discuss. But ending the lockdown in states with low infection numbers is the wrong answer when we haven’t tested widely; many of these states almost certainly have an underground contagion that will explode as soon as the lockdown is lifted. There are, however, responsible alternatives that might address the underlying concern.Instead of easing the lockdown state by state, we could do it person by person. Specifically, we could end the lockdown for people who have already recovered from COVID-19. These people offer something we badly need right now: A workforce that probably can’t get infected and probably can’t infect others. I say probably because there is plenty we don’t know. But there is reason to believe that people who recover from the coronavirus pose much less risk of infecting others... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2020 at Skating on Stilts