Riana Pfefferkorn is the Cryptography Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Her work, made possible through funding from the Stanford Cyber Initiative, focuses on investigating and analyzing the U.S. government's policy and practices for forcing decryption and/or influencing crypto-related design of online platforms and services, devices, and products, both via technical means and through the courts and legislatures. Riana also researches the benefits and detriments of strong encryption on free expression, political engagement, economic development, and other public interests.
Prior to joining Stanford, Riana was an associate in the Internet Strategy & Litigation group at the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where she worked on litigation and counseling matters involving online privacy, Internet intermediary liability, consumer protection, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets and was actively involved in the firm's pro bono program. Before that, Riana clerked for the Honorable Bruce J. McGiverin of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. She also interned during law school for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Riana earned her law degree from the University of Washington School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Whitman College.
High Res Photo of Riana Pfefferkorn
Researchers at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society (CIS) filed a petition yesterday seeking to unseal judicial records in San Francisco federal district court. Their goal is to reveal how the federal government uses U.S. law to obligate smartphone manufacturers and Internet companies to decrypt private user data, turn over encryption keys, or otherwise assist law enforcement with digital surveillance.
Yesterday, the Center for Internet and Society filed a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to uncover the U.S. government’s legal strategies for defeating encryption in law enforcement investigations.
Right now, all eyes are on Riverside, California, where a federal magistrate judge issued an unprecedented and dangerous order to Apple on February 16 compelling the company to create and cryptographically sign a special, crippled version of its iOS software that disables certain iPhone security features.
The Berklett Cybersecurity Project of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University has just released a new report on the so-called “going dark problem” that is fueling law enforcement demands for access to encrypted information. The report, “Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the ‘Going Dark’ Debate,” concludes that new consumer technologies will increasingly provide a wealth of data to governments about individual movements and activities.
Arguing that if the court should not compel Apple to create software to enable unlocking and search of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, it will jeopardize digital and personal security more generally.
Slides from the BlackHat 2016 presentation by Jennifer Granick and Riana Pfefferkorn titled "When the Cops Come A-Knocking: Handling Technical Assistance Demands from Law Enforcement."
In the name of saving cybersecurity, a new bill before Congress would kill cybersecurity. On April 13, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released an official draft of their long-awaited anti-encryption bill. The sponsors of the “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016” (CCOA) call it an innocuous law-and-order measure to ensure that American companies comply with court orders. In truth, it is a technologically tone-deaf and downright dangerous piece of legislation.
"Riana Pfefferkorn -- who helped write an amicus brief on Apple's behalf (along with several other security researchers and professors) -- pointed out on Twitter that Cellebrite's hacking is exactly the sort of risk the government refused to seriously contemplate during its pursuit of an All Writs Order forcing Apple to open up the phone for the FBI."
"Jennifer Granick, director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, explained that separating the needs of law enforcement from the public’s rights under the Constitution is not as simple as it might seem. She calls this policy battle the third “crypto war.”
"Riana Pfefferkorn, a legal researcher and attorney at Stanford University, told Ars:
With there being a fair number of cases out there that have taken a pretty dim view of plaintiff standing in these sorts of mass surveillance cases—he will have an uphill battle unless he has an extra ace up the sleeve to show that he was personally subjected to the surveillance that he was challenging."
"Two lawyers and legal researchers based at Stanford University have formally asked a federal court in San Francisco to unseal numerous records of surveillance-related cases, as a way to better understand how authorities seek such powers from judges. This courthouse is responsible for the entire Northern District of California, which includes the region where tech companies such as Twitter, Apple, and Google, are based.
January 17, 2017
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
In this digital day and age we’re grappling with questions like:
Stanford CIS brings together scholars, academics, legislators, students, programmers, security researchers, and scientists to study the interaction of new technologies and the law and to examine how the synergy between the two can either promote or harm public goods like free speech, innovation, privacy, public commons, diversity, and scientific inquiry. Come hear CIS Directors Jennifer Granick + Daphne Keller and Resident Fellows Riana Pfefferkorn + Luiz Fernando Marrey Moncau talk about our work, and the assistance CIS provides to students in learning about these issues, selecting courses, identifying job opportunities, and making professional connections.
In this digital day and age we’re grappling with questions like:
- What are the key digital policy issues that matter to nonprofits in 2017?
- What are the most pressing challenges to nonprofits and activists?
- What should nonprofits, foundations and community activists know about? How can they get involved? And what should they be doing to keep themselves and their communities safe?
This event will help inform and open a conversation on this topic with our audience of foundation and nonprofit leaders, students, philanthropists and more.
What kind of surveillance assistance can the U.S. government force companies to provide? This issue has entered the public consciousness due to the FBI's demand in February that Apple write software to help it access the San Bernardino shooter's encrypted iPhone. Technical assistance orders can go beyond the usual government requests for user data, requiring a company to actively participate in the government's monitoring of the targeted user(s).