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 Jonathan Mayer and Edward W. Felten
Special to The Bee
Cross-posted from The New York Times Opinion Pages.
To the Editor:
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
"While Internet users can choose to delete their regular cookies, Verizon Wireless users cannot delete the company’s so-called supercookies.
“Verizon is not in a position to control how others use its header,” Mr. Mayer said. “There’s no doubt that this particular approach does introduce new privacy problems.”" Read more » about Verizon’s Mobile ‘Supercookies’ Seen as Threat to Privacy
"With Turn, Mayer said he has found the smoking gun showing the risks to consumers posed by the Verizon Wireless supercookie are more than theoretical.
"While you have a Turn tracking cookie and are on the Verizon network, it kept track of the linkage between your Turn cookie and that Verizon Wireless tracking header," he explained. "But if you get rid of the Turn cookie, the back end of that system would notice and reinstate that cookie based on the header."" Read more » about Zombie cookies: How Verizon Wireless’s ‘supercookies’ make it even harder to avoid being tracked online
"“Hospitals have moved away from using ordinary email because there are all sorts of ways in which it can be compromised, intercepted in transit, or seen by your email provider,” said Jonathan Mayer, a computer scientist and lawyer at Stanford who specializes in data security and privacy. He added, “It’s especially bad when the information is in the subject line because who knows where that could pop up — on a desktop, a phone.”" Read more » about Oops! Health Insurer Exposes Member Data
"One security researcher, Stanford’s Jonathan Mayer, said, “I don’t know any computer scientist who takes that ‘It’s anonymous’ argument seriously. It’s been so thoroughly debunked in so many ways.”" Read more » about Verizon, AT&T tracking their users with ‘supercookies’
"“The most objectionable part is that it’s a boneheaded technical design, no matter what you think about carrier selling information about you,” says Mayer. “In the mobile space, it’s particularly hard to track people, but they’ve implemented the ultimate cookie. Any website can use their technology to follow you, even if you clear your cookies. There’s nothing you can do short of a VPN.”" Read more » about Find Out Whether This Unkillable Tracker Is On Your Smartphone
Because of Edward Snowden’s remarkable public service, we know that the National Security Agency, with the cooperation of some large firms, has amassed an unprecedented database of personal information. The ostensible goal in collecting that information is to protect national security. The effect, according to Reed Hundt, is to undermine democracy. Read more » about Saving Privacy
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
"WELNA: It could indeed. Hackers, by definition, are trying to break into other people's computer accounts and steal their information, so monitoring their activity means watching them poach on other people's Internet usage and private data. I talked with Jonathan Mayer, a computer security fellow at Stanford who's reviewed these latest Snowden documents. He says because of the way the surveillance law is written, the NSA can actually hang on to that hacked information. Read more » about New Snowden Documents Reveal Government Collection Of Online Data
CIS Affiliate Scholar David Levine interviews Jonathan Mayer, Stanford Ph.D. candidate in computer science, author of Terms of Abuse: An Empirical Assessment of the Federal Hacking Law, and How to Fix It. Read more » about Jonathan Mayer - Hearsay Culture Show #231 - KZSU-FM
Listen to the full piece at Marketplace.org.
"Now Neustar might lose the contract to Ericsson, which is based in Sweden. Neustar says this would be bad for national security, said Jonathan Mayer, a fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation.
“It certainly is a legitimate concern that the company that routes calls is in position to know a fair amount about law enforcement and intelligence investigations,” Mayer said." Read more » about The battle over which company has your number
View the CBS News Broadcast here.
"Stanford University Ph.D. student Jonathan Mayer and his research partner created an Android app called MetaPhone that asked users to volunteer their phone records in an effort to learn what could be uncovered from metadata. More than 500 people signed up. Read more » about Just how much personal information does phone metadata reveal?