Caveat 11.10.22
Ep 149 | 11.10.22

Security in elections.


Mike Hamilton: I think everyone that claims to be media should have a letter grade as to the veracity of their reporting.

Dave Bittner: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Caveat," the CyberWire's privacy, surveillance, law and policy podcast. I'm Dave Bittner, and joining me is my co-host, Ben Yelin, from the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security. Hello, Ben. 

Ben Yelin: Hello, Dave. 

Dave Bittner: Today, Ben discusses an effort to keep Big Tech from taking over your car. I've got a look at facial recognition technology in Texas. And later in the show, Mike Hamilton joins us. He's the former CISO of Seattle and currently CISO at a company called Critical Insight. And we're talking about election security. While this show covers legal topics and Ben is a lawyer, the views expressed do not constitute legal advice. For official legal advice on any of the topics we cover, please contact your attorney. 

Dave Bittner: All right, Ben, we got some good stories to share this week. Why don't you start things off for us here? 

Ben Yelin: So mine comes from the Recode page of the Vox website written by Sara Morrison. And it's about Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts sending a letter to the FTC and the DOJ asking them to investigate monopolization or consolidation as it relates to tech in our cars. So there's been this problem going back a couple of decades that the sound system - the infotainment system, as they're calling it in this article - in our cars have been kind of notoriously bad, just worse than you would expect... 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter) Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: ...Given that cars are pretty well made and have manufacturers who know what they're doing. But somehow the radios and the sound system and... 

Dave Bittner: Well, and also overpriced - like, I mean - maybe that's an unfair way to say it. It is an area where the auto manufacturers are able to enjoy a healthy markup for what they provide you with 'cause it's - typically you have the base model system... 

Ben Yelin: Right. 

Dave Bittner: ...Which, as you say, is terrible. 

Ben Yelin: Yep. 

Dave Bittner: And then you can upgrade to the one from Bose or Bang & Olufsen or whatever, and it's, like, $2,000. 

Ben Yelin: Right - when you've already, you know, taken out a second mortgage just to get the car itself, especially with the price of cars these days. 

Dave Bittner: Right. And the other thing I will add - 'cause you've triggered me here - is that... 

Ben Yelin: Uh-oh. You've been triggered. 

Dave Bittner: Well, in the old days, you could swap out your car stereo. 

Ben Yelin: Right. 

Dave Bittner: And there was a standard size. And so you could go to a third-party provider, you know, your Crutchfields of the world and upgrade your stereo. These days, the systems tend to be integrated with the whole electronic system of the car. So you don't have that option of doing an aftermarket upgrade. So you're kind of stuck. 

Ben Yelin: Yeah. You're stuck with these pretty unsatisfying systems. So luckily for us, we all have smartphones, generally, and most new cars have built-in technology so that you can use the features of your smartphone while you're driving. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: I have an iPhone. The newer car that we have has CarPlay. 

Dave Bittner: Yep. 

Ben Yelin: So I plug it in, I can get access to Google Maps, which is, you know, the easiest map software - map app to use. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: I can make and receive phone calls. I can look at my text messages. I can play my podcasts. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: And that's true for Android users as well. And Alexa - Amazon for Alexa has an increasing market share in these sort of smart car systems. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: They talked in this article about how a lot of people like to do some shopping while they're driving. They're thinking about something at a stoplight and say, you know what? I would like those new drapes for my bedroom. Lots of... 

Dave Bittner: I also joke that my favorite iPhone accessory is my car. 

Ben Yelin: And that's a great point. I mean, we end up using our smartphones almost more in our car than we would in our offices and our homes. For one reason, we have larger devices in our homes and offices, so, you know, I might as well use my computer or iPad if I'm in my house. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: But when you're in a car, CarPlay is the best you've got. You kind of have to focus your attention on not getting into a car crash. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: So that brings us back to this letter from Elizabeth Warren. She is concerned that these companies are going to gain an undue - these big tech companies are going to gain an undue market share and are stifling competition. The argument on behalf of the industries is that there actually is relatively sufficient competition, even just among the companies we've discussed. You have your Googles for your Android device. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: You have Apple CarPlay. You have Amazon Echo. That's a limited level of competition in and of itself. And car dealers and car manufacturers - I should say, just mainly car manufacturers - have recognized that people want these integrated systems. So they've come up with deals - the big car companies - with these big tech companies so that you can have access to their platforms. In cars, that seems to be pretty satisfactory for most users. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. I will say, the last time I bought a car - and it's been a couple of years, but it was important to me that it had CarPlay in it. And if I - were I an Android user, I would have wanted, you know, Android Auto. So I think that's a distinguishing factor. Now, I think most - I think it's pretty standard these days that pretty much every car you can go out there and buy has this built in. 

Ben Yelin: Yeah. So that's kind of the nature of her concern. The other thing she talked about is data collection. So in her letter, she talked about how giving these big tech companies access to our car systems allows them to collect data and might give them rich and exclusive data that they might use to build their autonomous vehicle projects. And that's something that all of these companies, to various degrees, are interested in in the future. And in turn, that might give them an undue competitive advantage in building out those systems so that smaller competitors don't have access to our rich data source that is our vehicle. They're not going to be able to enter the market when we do inevitably have autonomous vehicles at some point in the future. 

Dave Bittner: That's an interesting point. 

Ben Yelin: Yeah. There's also the concern that these companies have bought out a lot of their competitors. So even going beyond the internal system there - or infotainment system - Google, for example, purchased their maps competitor, Waze. So they further consolidated the market, and eventually, that's going to end up being detrimental to consumers 'cause there's going to be a lack of competition. And when all of the smaller players get out of the market, then the Googles of the world can either make the product worse, start charging, you know, anything that's going to hurt consumers because of consolidation in that particular market. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: I - and I say this as somebody who agrees with a lot of what Elizabeth Warren says and believes in - I kind of think she's wrong on this. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah (laughter). Let me gather myself here, Ben. Go on (laughter). 

Ben Yelin: Yeah. I don't - I actually do think there's more - how should I put this? - there is more competition for access to our infotainment system in cars than there are in a lot of spheres of the tech industry. And these are very useful products. They're integrated with our smartphone devices. If you have a problem with the competitive landscape among those smartphone devices, that's one thing. But we're just kind of transferring those conveniences to our car. So I don't see the need to crack down on - to have this sort of antitrust crackdown that she's asking from the FTC and the DOJ. 

Ben Yelin: I do think there is sufficient competition that there's enough of an incentive for these companies to provide a good user experience to work with the car manufacturers. I just don't think it's - I don't understand, really, the problem she's trying to address here. And maybe you can be devil's advocate. I think this is a convenience. I don't think this is an antitrust problem that should merit this much concern. 

Dave Bittner: And does she have any suggestions for how to make this right? 

Ben Yelin: So... 

Dave Bittner: I mean, it's not like there's a, you know, a third mobile platform waiting in the wings. You know, it's pretty much iOS and Android. Yes, there are some - you know, there's a handful of much, much smaller market share mobile, you know, options. But really, you're talking about - this is Coke and Pepsi when it comes to the two biggies, right? 

Ben Yelin: Right. 

Dave Bittner: And that's what people want. And that's what the auto manufacturers are delivering. 

Ben Yelin: Yeah. And I don't see that there's that much of a demand for a product outside of iOS and Android just because there's not that much of a demand for smartphones outside iOS and Android. The key functionality is having the features of your smartphone available on your dashboard. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: That's really what we're doing here. It's - I think the way she's writing this letter, she's considering it as a new frontier in Big Tech, when I think this is just an extension of a frontier that already exists, if that... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: ...Makes sense. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: I don't think this letter is going to do much. Usually you send these letters to kind of threaten big tech companies to try and stave off FTC enforcement before it starts. 

Dave Bittner: Right, right. I've got my eye on you (laughter). 

Ben Yelin: Exactly. 

Dave Bittner: Right, right. 

Ben Yelin: And we have seen - they talk about it in this article - Apple, at least in - maybe not relating to cars, but in other realms, has loosened some of its grips over phone software, etc. They've made it easier to pick which search engine you use in its default Safari browser. You can delete most of Apple's built-in applications. Google, of course, has been at the forefront of moving beyond self-preferencing in opening up app stores. And there have been efforts within Congress to force the other big tech companies to follow suit. 

Ben Yelin: So I think from her perspective, she wants to head off this problem before the competition is further consolidated. I just think that this effort seems to me to be maybe not misguided, but just - it just wouldn't be a priority of mine, if... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: ...That makes sense. 

Dave Bittner: It seems - it strikes me as a solution in search of a problem. 

Ben Yelin: Right, right. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: Now, I certainly think there are antitrust concerns about smartphones generally, although, even compared to other areas of the tech industry, I mean, we have some choices of which smartphones to use, even though... 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: ...There are two major competitors. There are smaller players in the market. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: That's its own problem. I just think that problem extends to what shows up on our car dashboards, and what shows up on our car dashboards isn't some sort of separate monopolization concern, in... 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: ...My view. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah, I agree. I mean, to me, it's a convenience. And I don't always use my CarPlay. Sometimes I just use the Bluetooth connection if I just want to play some music or, you know, use the phone or whatever. But, to me, it's just an extension. It's a convenience. And... 

Ben Yelin: It is a convenience. And there's nothing banning carmakers themselves with coming up with an in-house solution that's superior to what iOS and Android have put forward. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: Now, certainly, car manufacturers would probably rather just make a deal with one of the big tech companies... 

Dave Bittner: Right, right. 

Ben Yelin: ...And pocket the change. But there's no law preventing - if these car companies wanted to come up with something better, which they've generally failed to do in the past, they certainly could. 

Dave Bittner: It doesn't seem to me like consumers are unhappy about this, either. 

Ben Yelin: I don't see why a consumer would be unhappy. Again... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: ...It's because we do all generally have one of these smartphones. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: So I'm not looking for competition in what I use to connect to my car infotainment system. I'm looking that it connects to one of the two platforms that I'm likely to use. So from a consumer's perspective, unlike, say, something like the airline industry, where the customer inevitably suffers by the lack of competition because of increases in price, decreases in the quality of service, I just don't see that happening in this particular area. And maybe I'm ignorant on something. Maybe I'm missing something. But that's my - that was my general reaction... 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: ...To having read this article. 

Dave Bittner: All right. Fair enough. We will have a link to that article in the show notes. 

Dave Bittner: My story this week comes from the folks over at Fast Company. This is an article written by Evan Enzer, and it's titled, "In Texas, Facial Recognition is Becoming a Way of Life." And Evan actually starts this article with an interesting personal story. He and his wife were looking to rent an apartment, and the landlord was requesting a photo for facial recognition verification, basically to confirm that they are who they say they are. And what Evan Enzer points out here is that Texas has a law where you are allowed to opt out of biometric things like this, but there's no alternative. In other words, you can opt out, but then you don't get the apartment. 

Ben Yelin: Right. It's kind of like if the TSA were to say - and they have not done this - but if the TSA were to say, don't go through one of our scanning machines, and if you choose not to, you're not getting on the plane. 

Dave Bittner: Right. I think of, like, software licenses, you know, where they say, you know, if you buy - in the old days, they'd say, you know, if you open this box, if you break this seal, you agree to all the terms in here. And, you know, you and I have talked about the madness of ULAs over and over again. But again, the relief there is if you don't like this, fine, don't use our software. There's no way to line item out, you know, anything or enter any sort of negotiation. It's... 

Ben Yelin: Right. 

Dave Bittner: ...All or nothing. 

Ben Yelin: Right. And most people who are in the hunt for an apartment, they're not going to have the type of bargaining power to say, well, you better find another tenant because I'm just not going to submit to this facial recognition... 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: ...Software. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: They're going to be completely out of luck. I mean, you just - people don't have that type of flexibility to reject an apartment because of an objectionable form of data collection. And therefore, the data collection is going to happen without some sort of prescribed relief. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. So I'm - you know, the - this article points out some of the things that you and I have addressed here, some of the issues with facial recognition. Of course, there are accuracy issues, and facial recognition does worse at identifying women than men and does particularly poorly when it comes to people of color, markedly so. And obviously, that's a problem. I'm curious for your view, you know, with your knowledge of the Fourth Amendment, like, where does this come - where does this land when it comes to privacy, the fact that it's - to me, it seems sort of coercive in that, yes, the law says you can opt out of this, but I still would need a place to live, right? 

Ben Yelin: Right. So one thing at least thematically about the Fourth Amendment is it's at its strongest when it's protecting people inside their own homes. That's mentioned in the amendment itself, that there's a prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures of one's home, among other things. And it's certainly been that the impetus for the Fourth Amendment, from the time of our Constitution's drafting, was to avoid these sort of general warrants where back - among our legal ancestors in the United Kingdom, kings would just sort of go into people's houses and send their minions and see what they could find if they wanted to arrest you. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: So there is this sort of enhanced protection inside the home, which I think is relevant when we're talking about the collection of biometric data. I think that makes this fundamentally different than the use of biometrics to get into an office, for example. There's something - I don't want to use the word holy, but there's something kind of - there's an enhanced protection that comes with one's home. And if we're denying people access to homes because they refuse to comply with these demands for our biometric data, I think at least thematically, that's going to be a Fourth Amendment problem. 

Ben Yelin: And I'll mention that some jurisdictions have already tried to address this problem. There was a proposal they mentioned in this article from the New York City Council to require landlords to offer tenants physical keys if they choose in place of biometric access systems. Some cities and states across the country - and we've talked about this - have banned government use of facial recognition. And members of Congress have proposed prohibiting the use of it as it relates to public housing. So this is something that policymakers have realized is a potential problem. I think the state of Texas will have to decide if this becomes something that goes beyond people who write for Fast Company and goes beyond... 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: ...People who are certified privacy professionals, they'd have to ask whether there is a policy imperative to give people a legally mandated alternative. I can't say I see that happening in the short term just because most people will choose convenience over going to court and fighting something and risking losing out on an apartment just because you don't want your biometric data collected. 

Dave Bittner: Right. I suppose, too - I mean - I'm thinking of the company who's requesting the biometric data. It's for their convenience, their security. I guess it - you know, it makes things faster, easier, cheaper for them. But you would think they would have some kind of backup system in place for folks who, for whatever reason, couldn't do this. Or - I guess I'm trying to suss out to what degree is this also not just verification, but perhaps gatekeeping? 

Ben Yelin: Some of it is gatekeeping. I mean, I can certainly foresee accessibility problems. As you say, people, for whatever reason, are not able to get facial recognition. We've talked about the disparities among racial and ethnic groups and being recognized through facial recognition systems. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: So that could be a potential equity concern. You kind of start to wonder if a certain element of gatekeeping is keeping faces out of an apartment building that you might just not want in an apartment building. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: So I understand that as a concern. But I think it's one of those things where the stakes are relatively low in some contexts as it relates to facial recognition - like I said, in an office, in a nonhome setting. When we're talking about homes, the stakes are a little bit higher. And the fact that there isn't an alternative is certainly something that would raise concerns. And that's not even the highest-stakes potential use or abuse of facial recognition technology, 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: I mean, this article talks about a couple of examples of people who were arrested and charged for crimes, things you have to put on your resume and work applications, because of false data from facial recognition. And if all apartment buildings going forward in Texas are going to require the use of this biometric data, you introduce the risk that those types of things could happen again. So, yeah. I mean, I think the natural solution here is to have a nondigital alternative, at least giving consumers the right to opt out, even if most of them would choose to opt in because of the convenience. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: I just think there's nothing wrong from a policy perspective, and there's no downside to giving people the option of having a physical key. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. It also strikes me that this is a kind of scrutiny that would not be applied to a homebuyer. Like, this is hitting renters, not homebuyers. Now, obviously, you know, you buy a home, it's a mountain - an avalanche of paperwork. But it - again, you know, it's a different level of scrutiny. It could - there could be some gatekeeping here - people who, for whatever reason, whether they choose to rent or, you know, can't afford to buy a house, whatever. 

Dave Bittner: I guess what I'm getting at is I think by this is affecting renters, you are hitting a different strata of folks - you're going to tend to hit a different strata of folks than, say, homebuyers. And I can see how that could be problematic as well. 

Ben Yelin: Absolutely. Now, it does hit homebuyers, incidentally, maybe not to the same degree. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. 

Ben Yelin: But for things like condo complexes, in order to be part of the condo association, you might have to submit some type of biometric data to get into common areas even if you're a homeowner. And they talk about this - that in this article. One city has installed facial recognition cameras outside a public housing complex in order to patrol the grounds for potential evidence of crimes. So this is going to affect homeowners. But it's going to be - it's going to have, I think you're right, a more pronounced effect among a lower socioeconomic class of renters who are kind of going to be coerced due to their lack of bargaining power to just submit this data, consequences be damned. 

Ben Yelin: And some of those consequences can be particularly severe. So that's why I just think, from a policy perspective, the right answer is to give people a legally mandated alternative, to not do what Texas did, which is to say, yes, you have the right to opt out of biometric data, but if you do opt out, you lose what you want, in this case, an apartment. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: I think, like the New York City Council is trying to do, I think you have to give people a meaningful choice that won't risk giving up something like an apartment just because people don't want to submit their biometric data. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. All right. Well, again, that article is from the folks over at Fast Company, and we will have a link to that in the show notes as well. We would love to hear from you if there's a topic that you would like us to cover here on "Caveat." You can email us. It's 

Dave Bittner: Ben, I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mike Hamilton. He is formerly the CISO of the city of Seattle and currently CISO at a company called Critical Insight. And our conversation focuses on election security. Here's my conversation with Mike Hamilton. 

Mike Hamilton: We are going to have to live with a lot of disinformation and attempts to sway voters into not voting, thinking that ballot harvesting, vote cheating, you know, has gone on when it has not, just to create the perception that elections can't be trusted, you know, and maybe to suppress votes. That's going to be going on. And interestingly, you know, with all the talk of, you know, getting cybered, the states are really focused on disinformation as the biggest threat. 

Dave Bittner: And what about threats to the actual voting equipment? I mean, is that something we feel as though we have a pretty good handle on? 

Mike Hamilton: We do. The voting equipment - I would say, for the most part, but it's almost everything - is completely disjoint from the administrative networks in the counties where the elections are conducted. It's a standalone thing, not connected to the internet. So you would really need physical access. And this has been demonstrated over and over again. So, you know, voting machines being hacked - now, setting aside that there has been this event where, you know, voting machine software has been copied and, you know, pulled out of machines and who knows what happened to that, that actually, you know, causes a little bit of concern. Still, that's not the same as making modifications to that software. You know, they're going to have to recertify things. But really, you would need, like I say, physical access in order to actually, you know, change votes on voting machines. 

Dave Bittner: It also strikes me that, something I think we certainly haven't experienced in my lifetime, is the threats to the folks who have volunteered, in many cases, but who are responsible for seeing that these elections run smoothly at the local level. 

Mike Hamilton: Yes. That is a big, big problem right now. I think there are a number of threats that have nothing to do with cybersecurity. That's one of them. Just the threats to election officials and volunteers have just driven people away. You know, another one is the - just natural events. You know, fires, you know, hurricanes, floods, you know, all these things that are happening, if they coincide with the timing of an election, you know, it's likely election infrastructure could get wiped out by an event like that. So, you know, there's a lot of things to watch that don't have anything to do with cybersecurity. 

Dave Bittner: Let's focus a little on the disinformation aspect of this here. I mean, what responsibility do you think that the big social media platforms have to try to combat this stuff? 

Mike Hamilton: Well, you know, they are private-sector companies, and they can do whatever they want. But to the extent that they are invested in the integrity of election outcomes, helping to identify falsehoods and mark those, you know, I think it is incumbent on them. A lot of people will be reviled in that just because, you know, here - it's censorship. I mean, that's the perception created for a lot of people. But I do think there's a responsibility because they are doing business here. And doing business here has something to do with the integrity of elections and a functioning government. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. I wonder also about - as I think about the possibility of regulatory efforts to try to get this sort of disinformation, you know, under control, I guess what it reminds me is that it's often a lagging element. You know, the regulatory regime lags behind the need. And this is so unprecedented, the fact that - I don't know. It's hard for me to wrap my head around the degree to which people are trying to plant those seeds of doubts in people's minds with something that is so fundamental to our nation, to our democracy. 

Mike Hamilton: Well, you know, problematically, in this country, our media literacy is really bad. And, you know, people have fractionated and factionalized, and you can kind of make up your own truth now, and people are going to believe what they want to believe. And to tell you the truth, I mean, social media is kind of the genesis of that. So, you know, that's why I do think it's incumbent on them to, you know, hold up their hand and say, this isn't true. 

Mike Hamilton: And, in fact, I'll tell you, at the state level, when I participated in a state exercise - identify the state - it was supposed to be a, you know, election cybersecurity exercise, and it ended up being 90% about disinformation and how they would counter disinformation quickly, identify it and counter it quickly. And we're talking about, you know, some success in doing that. So, you know, I think that's where the efforts are going to be focused. You know, apart from the social media companies, you know, maybe they will, maybe they won't start marking things as falsehoods. The states are going to be on this. 

Dave Bittner: What do you suppose, you know, folks who are in the cybersecurity world can do? Is this - is there an element of putting the word out, you know, letting your friends and family know that these things are secure, that there is - or just even to be aware of, that there's so much disinformation floating around? 

Mike Hamilton: Well, I think that's what it needs to be - I mean, both of those things. You know, there's been a lot of disparagement of mail-in voting. And, you know, maybe some states put that together quickly and didn't do as good a job as, you know, we do here in Washington state. But we've - ever since I moved here 20 years ago, this is just the way we do it. You vote by mail, and it's secure, and we can prove it's secure. You know, there's signature matching. There's barcodes on the ballots. I think that letting people know that, No. 1, they're coming for your opinion, you know, with disinformation, I guess, for lack of a better term, and that these elections are secure, and you don't need to worry about this cyber stuff - you know, a lot of people too, you know, think, oh, Russia's going to hack our election. Well, they're going to hack your mind is what they're going to do. And I think that's what we need to tell people, yes. 

Mike Hamilton: You know, I do think there is one cyber aspect of this, though, and that is this, and I believe it's going to be more of an issue in 2024 rather than 2022. And that is because of the way the electoral college works. In this country, if you can sway the vote in three, four or five key counties, you can change who becomes president, right? That's just the way the electoral college works. 

Mike Hamilton: So if you can cause, for example, a ransomware attack against key counties - these jurisdictions where, you know, if you want to sway four or five of these - because the county will be rendered inoperable, the perception created will be that the election can't be trusted, even though the election infrastructure is completely separate from that county. And I do think that's a danger in 2024. It happened one time in the 2016 election - 2016 or 2020. I can't remember. It was Chatham County, N.C. Right in the middle of an election, they got smacked by ransomware. 

Dave Bittner: And so even though the ransomware didn't affect the voting systems, the damage is done in terms of people's perception? 

Mike Hamilton: For a lot of people, yep, the damage is done. 

Dave Bittner: What do you think we can do, then, here? I mean, are we talking about educational efforts? How do we reestablish people's confidence in these electoral systems? 

Mike Hamilton: I think there's a short term and long term. So short term, have you ever heard of UOCAVA voting? 

Dave Bittner: No. 

Mike Hamilton: That is Uniformed - I'm going to try and remember this - Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. And what that says is if you're deployed military overseas or expatriate, you have a different way to vote than everybody else. And that's basically you mark a ballot online. It's like DocuSign. And then that ballot is transmitted over to the jurisdiction where it will be printed and counted. And so it's like, you know, any other voting system except you're in another country. And I think because that's legal and it's been used and it's always been used, I think having a fallback plan like that would definitely hedge our bet against some things going wrong, like a natural disaster or no election workers or something like that. So in short term, I think things like that are worthy of consideration. 

Mike Hamilton: Longer term, because I really think the problem is with American media literacy, I think - you know when you walk into a restaurant in New York and it's got a letter grade on the door - right? - the Department of Health has given a letter grade. I think everyone that claims to be media should have a letter grade as to the veracity of their reporting. And, you know, we can use an objective, you know, system of fact-checking and give them a letter grade and, you know, let people start to understand the quality of the information that they are receiving from some of these outlets. And perhaps that will move the needle. Because that is the root of the problem, I think that's where we need to attack it. 

Dave Bittner: Ben, what do you think? 

Ben Yelin: That was a fascinating conversation. I should mention that we're recording this on an Election Day. 

Dave Bittner: Yes. 

Ben Yelin: So it's very on brand. 

Dave Bittner: (Laughter) That's right. 

Ben Yelin: By the time you listen to this, you'll probably know the outcome of the midterm elections. 

Dave Bittner: That's right. 

Ben Yelin: One thing that stuck out to me is I think when people think about election security or potential shenanigans related to elections, they think about corrupt voting machines or even foreign bad actors hacking into our voting machines. That is a concern. I think it's a concern that hasn't manifested itself to a great degree, but it's certainly something we should be worried about. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: I think the greater concern - and this might be kind of more for a "Hacking Humans" podcast than for a "Caveat" podcast - is just people's general distrust of our electoral system and how any type of discrepancy or counting error or method of counting votes is going to be used as a justification for a conspiracy. And I understand why that happens. I mean, we don't physically see our ballots get counted in our county clerk's office. 

Dave Bittner: Right. 

Ben Yelin: We're sending them off, and there's a certain level of trust that our votes are going to be counted in a way that's fair and equitable. The only way that people are going to have that level of trust is if elite political actors tell us that this is a process that can be trusted. And when you have elite actors in political movements saying that the process itself can't be trusted, I think the whole system kind of collapses on itself. And I think that's one of the things he was getting at in your discussion there. So I thought it was a really fascinating interview. 

Dave Bittner: Yeah. Well, again, our thanks to Mike Hamilton for joining us. We do appreciate him taking the time. 

Dave Bittner: And that is our show. We want to thank all of you for listening. The "Caveat" podcast is proudly produced in Maryland at the startup studios of DataTribe, where they're co-building the next generation of cybersecurity teams and technologies. Our senior producer is Jennifer Eiben. Our executive editor is Peter Kilpe. I'm Dave Bittner. 

Ben Yelin: And I'm Ben Yelin. 

Dave Bittner: Thanks for listening.