Suddenly, everyone is gunning for Google

The big cyber law story of the week is the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google and the many hats the company wears in the online ad ecosystem. Lee Berger explains the Justice Department’s theory, which is no different from the Texas attorney general’s two-year-old lawsuit. When you’ve lost both the Biden administration and the Texas attorney general, I suggest, you can’t ask for too many places for friends—and especially not in Brussels, which is also making similar demands. So what’s the Department of Justice’s late-to-the-party contribution to this bunch? Lee is proposing at least two things: a jury demand that will put all of those complex Borki consumer welfare doctrines before a Northern Virginia jury, and a “rocket trial” that will allow Justice to catch up with and perhaps sidestep other lawsuits against the company. This case looks like it’s going to be a long and ugly one for Google, unless it turns out to be short and ugly. However, Mark reminds us, for the judiciary, finding an effective remedy can be more difficult than proving anti-competitive behavior.

Nathan Simington assesses the administration’s announced deal with Japan and the Netherlands to implement its strict divestment policy from China’s semiconductor industry. Details are still a bit sparse, but some sort of deal was necessary for the American campaign to succeed. For Japan and the Netherlands, the details are key, and any arrangement will require flexibility and sophistication on the part of the US Commerce Department if it is to work in the long term.

Megan Stifel and I chew on the DOJ/FBI victory lap after they put a stick in the spokes of The Hive ransomware infrastructure. We agree that the circle was justified. Among other things, the FBI handled its access to decryption keys more carefully than in the past, giving them to many victims before taking down much of the ransomware group’s tools. Bad news? No one has been arrested and the infrastructure can probably be rebuilt in the near future.

Here’s the evergreen headline: “Facebook to Reactivate Donald Trump’s Account.” It could be the opening line of any Trump-Facebook story in the past few months, and it’s probably Facebook’s strategy—a long, teasing dance of the seven veils so that by the time Trump starts posting, it’ll be old news. If that’s Facebook’s PR strategy, it’s working, reports Mark MacCarthy. No one cares too much about Trump’s comeback, and they don’t seem to be mad at Facebook. So the company is out of the woods, but for the former president, it’s a blow to the ego that’s sure to sting.

Megan has more good news on the cybercrime front: The FBI has identified a North Korean hacking group that stole $100 million in cryptocurrencies last year — and may have prevented the regime from getting its hands on any of the funds.

Nathan unpacks two competing news stories. First, “OMG, ChatGPT will help bad guys write malware.” Second: “Oh my gosh, ChatGPT will help the good guys find and fix security holes.” He thinks they are both a little overworked, but perhaps a glimpse into the future.

Mark and Megan explain the new TikTok offering to Washington. Megan is also covering the “TayTay vs. Ticketmaster” Congressional hearing after revealing her personal conflict of interest.

Nathan answers my question: How can the FAA be so good at preventing aircraft crashes and so bad at preventing its systems from crashing? The ensuing discussion delivers more real bathroom humor than anyone would expect.

I cover three stories in quick hits:

Download episode 440 (mp3)

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