Jonathan Mayer is a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at Stanford University, where he received his J.D. in 2013. He was named one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2014, for his work on technology security and privacy. Jonathan's research and commentary frequently appears in national publications, and he has contributed to federal and state law enforcement actions.
Jonathan is a Cybersecurity Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, a Junior Affiliate Scholar at the Center for Internet and Society, and a Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow. He earned his A.B. at Princeton University in 2009, concentrating in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Jonathan has consulted for both federal and state law enforcement agencies, and his research on consumer privacy has contributed to multiple regulatory interventions. A proud Chicago native, Jonathan is undaunted by freezing weather and enjoys celery salt on a hot dog.
Co-authored with Patrick Mutchler. This is a project of the Stanford Security Lab.
Just over a month ago we launched MetaPhone, an Android app for crowdsourcing phone metadata. Our results have already confirmed that phone activity easily reveals private relationships, is deeply interconnected, and can trivially be identified.
We’ve received lots of great feedback on the study from researchers and participants. One request has been especially consistent: show me my metadata!
Starting today, the MetaPhone app will provide personalized results about your phone metadata privacy. Read more » about Spy on Your Metadata
Co-authored with Patrick Mutchler. This is a project of the Stanford Security Lab.
We’re studying the National Security Agency, and we need your help.
Our recent research on Google’s circumvention of the Safari cookie blocking feature has led to some confusion, in part owing to the company’s statement in response (reproduced in its entiretybelow). This post is an attempt to elucidate the central issues. As with the original writeup, I aim for a neutral viewpoint in the interest of establishing a common factual understanding. Read more » about Setting the Record Straight on Google’s Safari Tracking
Apple’s Safari web browser is configured to block third-party cookies by default. We identified four advertising companies that unexpectedly place trackable cookies in Safari. Google and Vibrant Media intentionally circumvent Safari’s privacy feature. Media Innovation Group and PointRoll serve scripts that appear to be derived from circumvention example code. Read more » about Safari Trackers
Yesterday the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) announced a supplementary set of self-regulatory principles for third parties on the web (pdf, press release). This post is a brief — and far from comprehensive — overview of improvements, continued deficiencies, and procedural issues. Read more » about A Brief Overview of the Supplementary DAA Principles
By Edward Felten and Jonathan Mayer
Snooping on the Internet is tricky. The network is diffuse, global, and packed with potential targets. There’s no central system for identifying or locating individuals, so it’s hard to keep track of who is online and what they’re up to. What’s a spy agency to do? Read more » about How the NSA Piggy-Backs on Third-Party Trackers
John Mitchell and I have written a new paper that synthesizes research on policy and technology issues surrounding third-party web tracking. It will appear at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in May. Read more » about Third-Party Web Tracking: Policy and Technology
"“At the outset of this study, we shared the same hypothesis as our computer science colleagues—we thought phone metadata could be very sensitive,” Jonathan Mayer, a graduate student leading the project, wrote on Wednesday."
Jennifer Granick, the director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society where Mayer is affiliated, concluded that this study “adds important empirical evidence to support what is now a growing consensus. Metadata surveillance endangers privacy.” Read more » about Volunteers in metadata study called gun stores, strip clubs, and more
""I was pegged as a motorcycling Christian who owns a Nissan Pathfinder and, I think, had two or three kids, all of which is entirely incorrect," says Jonathan Mayer, a junior affiliate scholar at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society. "This certainly raises some questions about how useful is this really, if the data is so messy."" Read more » about AboutTheData.com asks if you recognize your online self
"From serving as a consultant to law enforcement to collaborating with Firefox on a cookie-blocking feature, Jonathan Mayer J.D. ’12 Ph.D. ’16 has made a name for himself in recent years with regards to technology policy and online privacy issues." Read more » about Graduate student soars to tech policy stardom
""We are no longer seen as a safe business climate," said Aleecia M. McDonald, director of privacy at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society."
"Jonathan Mayer, a doctoral student in computer science and Cybersecurity Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, said that the law is still evolving in our highly digital world – and right now, it does not go far enough in safeguarding privacy." Read more » about Surveillance threatens U.S. business climate, democracy, say Stanford researchers
"Rejecting Google’s reasoning, Koh effectively reinterpreted old U.S. privacy laws for the Internet age, said Jonathan Mayer, a Stanford University doctoral student with a law degree who tracks online privacy issues.
“Federal privacy law mostly makes sense for phone calls and messages, but it’s deeply ambiguous on newer technology,” said Mayer, whose February 2012 blog post drew early attention to Google’s attempt to bypass privacy settings on Apple browsers, which ended with the search giant’s $17 million payment to 37 states in November." Read more » about Clickable Consent at Risk in Internet Privacy Lawsuits
This talk presents an empirical assessment of the NSA’s legal restrictions, including research cited by President Obama’s intelligence review group. We find that present limits on bulk surveillance programs come up far short; authorities to intercept international Internet traffic and domestic telephone metadata place ordinary Americans at risk. Read more » about The Science of Surveillance
Solutions to many pressing economic and societal challenges lie in better understanding data. New tools for analyzing disparate information sets, called Big Data, have revolutionized our ability to find signals amongst the noise. Big Data techniques hold promise for breakthroughs ranging from better health care, a cleaner environment, safer cities, and more effective marketing. Yet, privacy advocates are concerned that the same advances will upend the power relationships between government, business and individuals, and lead to prosecutorial abuse, racial or other profiling, discrimination, redlining, overcriminalization, and other restricted freedoms. Read more » about Big Data and Privacy: Making Ends Meet
Have you ever borrowed a smartphone without asking? Modified a URL? Scraped a website? Called an undocumented API? Congratulations: you might have violated federal law! A 1986 statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), provides both civil and criminal remedies for mere "unauthorized" access to a computer. Read more » about Innovation or Exploitation?
Hosted by the Stanford Center for E-Commerce.
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm: Registration/Reception (Manning Faculty Lounge, second floor breezeway fo Stanford Law School) Read more » about Behavioral Advertising and Privacy Law Reboot - US and International Legal Trends and Best Practices for Internet, Cloud and E-Commerce Companies
The third edition of the Privacy Identity Innovation conference will be held in downtown Seattle this Spring. Taking place May 15-16 at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, pii2012 Seattle will explore how to protect sensitive information while enabling new technologies and business models. Read more » about Privacy Identity Innovation - pii2012
Have you ever borrowed a smartphone without asking? Modified a URL? Scraped a website? Called an undocumented API? Congratulations: you might have violated federal law! A 1986 statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), provides both civil and criminal remedies for mere "unauthorized" access to a computer. Read more » about Innovation or Exploitation (Video)
Have you ever borrowed a smartphone without asking? Modified a URL? Scraped a website? Called an undocumented API? Congratulations: you might have violated federal law! A 1986 statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), provides both civil and criminal remedies for mere "unauthorized" access to a computer. Read more » about Innovation or Exploitation? (Audio)