Jonathan Mayer is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Before joining the Princeton faculty, Jonathan served as the technology law and policy advisor to United States Senator Kamala Harris and as the Chief Technologist of the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau. Jonathan's research centers on the intersection of technology and law, with emphasis on national security, criminal procedure, consumer privacy, network management, and online speech. Jonathan is both a computer scientist and a lawyer, and he holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.
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.
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.
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.
Thursday evening, the Attorney General, the Acting Homeland Security Secretary, and top law enforcement officials from the U.K. and Australia sent an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg. The letter emphasizes the scourge of child abuse content online, and the officials call on Facebook to press pause on end-to-end encryption for its messaging platforms.
Blocking cookies is bad for privacy. That’s the new disingenuous argument from Google, trying to justify why Chrome is so far behind Safari and Firefox in offering privacy protections. As researchers who have spent over a decade studying web tracking and online advertising, we want to set the record straight.
Our high-level points are:
1) Cookie blocking does not undermine web privacy. Google’s claim to the contrary is privacy gaslighting.
By Jonathan Mayer and Edward W. Felten
Special to The Bee
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?
CIS Student Fellow Jonathan Mayer was mentioned in the following Stanford Daily article by Sandy Huang. The article covered a report authored by Mayer on privacy leaks that occur on highly visited websites.
Privacy leaks occur on 185 of the Internet’s top visited websites, according to a recent study by Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society (CIS). The report was authored by Jonathan Mayer, a graduate student in computer science and at the School of Law. The report was released last Tuesday at a conference in Washington, D.C. hosted by the National Press Club.
Jonathan Mayer outlined tracking of Internet users by third-party Web trackers, focusing on a Stanford University study on the various ways people are tracked unknowingly online. After his speech he answered questions from the audience.
This program was part of a forum on Internet privacy co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Consumer Watchdog, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, U.S. PIRG, and World Privacy Forum.
Student fellow Jonathan Mayer is the featured guest on a Martketplace radio broadcast covering the Do Not Track List option now available to web users. Here is a description and link to the interview:
The idea of a Do Not Track list for web users has been kicked around for a while. After the relative success of the Do Not Call telemarketing list, it seems like an easy and practical way for people to choose not to be tracked around the Internet by online advertisers.
Jonathan Mayer is a computer science Ph.D. student and 3L at Stanford University. He graduated from Princeton University in 2009 with a concentration in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Jonathan's area of study encompasses the intersections of policy, law, and computer science - with particular emphasis on national security and international relations.
In this first episode, Mike and I explore how your simplest digital footprints – fragments of Google searches, Facebook likes, and innocuous tweets – can expose deeply intimate facts about you. Like whether your parents are divorced and whether you own a gun. In fact, these vanilla datasets that we all generate every time we use the Internet reveal surprising clues about our personalities and behavior. So how can that information be used, and who is collecting it? We talk to Michal Kosinski of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and Jonathan Mayer, a computer scientist and lawyer.
As consumers increasingly adopt encryption tools, government officials have warned of the “Going Dark” problem – the notion that widespread encryption will thwart legitimate government efforts to investigate crime and safeguard national security. To address this problem, law enforcement and intelligence community officials have suggested that companies include “backdoors” in their products to permit lawful government access to encrypted data. This proposal has been met with criticism from technologists and privacy advocates alike.
"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.
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.
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."