Riana Pfefferkorn is the Associate Director of Surveillance and Cybersecurity 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
In September 2016, my colleague Jennifer Granick (now at the ACLU) and I filed a petition in the federal district court for the Northern District of California that sought to unseal years' worth of sealed surveillance matters filed in that court. It is well-established that the public and the press have First Amendment and common-law rights to access court records.
Encryption helps human rights workers, activists, journalists, financial institutions, innovative businesses, and governments protect the confidentiality, integrity, and economic value of their activities. However, strong encryption may mean that governments cannot make sense of data they would otherwise be able to lawfully access in a criminal or intelligence investigation.
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.
Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to deny the Petition, plus supporting documents (supporting declaration of Jennifer Granick, administrative motion, proposed orders).
Motion to unseal the docket and court's legal reasoning in a sealed case wherein the Department of Justice allegedly sought to compel Facebook to comply with a wiretap order for Facebook's end-to-end encrypted voice calling app, Messenger.
Letter to Australia's Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) regarding a proposed "compromise" version of the Assistance and Access Bill.
Supplemental comments submitted to Australia's Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) on the revised draft (20 September 2018 version) of the Telecommunication & Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance & Access) Bill 2018, in advance of testimony during the PJCIS's 16 November 2018 hearing on the Bill.
Comments submitted to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) of the Australian Parliament on the revised draft (20 September 2018 version) of the Telecommunication & Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance & Access) Bill 2018.
"“That’s at odds with the way that the case law has been developing in other courts,” said Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
For a firm answer on whether Florida law enforcement can require someone to provide their passcode, Stanford’s Pfefferkorn said, the state’s Supreme Court will need to weigh in.
“The takeaway is that this guy is unlucky enough to be in a court that is kind of at odds with the other courts that have considered” this issue, she said."
"Even Riana Pfefferkorn—a cryptography expert and attorney at Stanford Law School who submitted formal October 2018 testimony to the Australian parliament arguing against the law—doesn't know what is meant exactly by "systemic weakness."
"Nobody knows!" she said, while laughing for a brief moment. "Whenever you open up a vulnerability in a piece of software or a piece of hardware, it's going to have consequences that are unforeseeable.""
"“What kinds of criminals mask their location, and for what kinds of crimes? Child pornography, yes; violent threats, yes; but also organized-crime rings engaged in cybercrime. A business email compromise scam, like those at issue in these warrants, falls squarely in that camp,” Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told Motherboard in an online chat after reviewing the documents."
""This case adds to the disagreement over how to analyze compelled decryption orders in the context of passcodes," said Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, in an email to The Register."
When you give sites and services information about yourself, where does it go? Who else will get hold of it, and what will they use it for? The recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica's acquisition of data about tens of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or consent have prompted renewed interest in how data about us gets shared, sold, used, and misused -- well beyond what we ever expected. Join us for a SLATA/CIS lunchtime conversation with three experts from Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society as we discuss the legal and policy implications of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and responses from Congress and courts. How can we prevent this from happening again? What new problems might we create through poorly-crafted legal responses?
CIS Cryptography Fellow Riana Pfefferkorn will be speaking on a panel on "Cryptography and Ethics"at the 2018 Cybersecurity Law Symposium. Leading experts from academia and industry will discuss the legal and policy issues that arise from the latest developments in cybersecurity. This event is open to the public, but registration is required.
Cryptography Fellow Riana Pfefferkorn will be speaking at the 2018 InfoSec Southwest.
Encryption shields private information from malicious eavesdroppers. After years of slow adoption, encryption is finally becoming widespread in consumer-oriented electronic devices and communications services. Consumer-oriented encryption software is now more user-friendly, and much of it turns on encryption by default. These advances enhance privacy and security for millions of people.
We're yet to see the details of the deal between the Government and Labor which would allow the passage of laws to give police and investigators access to encrypted messages.
That leaves one more day in this sitting of Parliament to get the laws through, after the Government claimed there was an urgent need to do so before Christmas.
Riana Pfefferkorn is a digital security expert and Cryptography Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. She says that we are living in the “Golden Age of Surveillance,” in which the growing ubiquity of data-rich smart devices has produced a fundamental tension between the rights of users to protect their personal data and the needs of law enforcement to investigate or prevent serious crimes.
Cryptography Fellow Riana Pfefferkorn was a guest on the WashingTech Policy Podcast with Joseph Miller.