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
In October, we covered a significant case in Brooklyn federal court that tackles the hot-button issue of whether tech companies should be compelled to provide law enforcement with the ability to access information that’s protected by encryption.
Last week, the government of the United Kingdom proposed a bill that would codify and expand the surveillance powers afforded to UK intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill would consolidate current laws governing surveillance and police investigations, codify the UK government’s and courts’ interpretations of what those laws permit, and in some instances extend existing law to grant new powers to government.
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.
Last week, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a speech about encryption that prompted a considerable amount of well-deserved blowback. His speech rehashed a number of long-discredited technical proposals for “solving” the “going dark” problem, and it also misstated the law.
"“It’s basically the gloves coming off,” said Riana Pfefferkorn, a cryptography fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society.
"Riana Pfefferkorn, a cryptography fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, said the phone could contain information not available elsewhere, like data stored and deleted locally, but in this case she doesn’t see the point.
“I don’t think this is a case where that would be forensically significant,” Pfefferkorn said of accessing the phone."
""Contrary to Rosenstein's inflammatory digs, strong encryption does help prevent crime, such as identity theft -- something 'responsible' companies need to worry about at a time when massive data breaches regularly dominate the headlines," said Riana Pfefferkorn, a cryptography fellow at Stanford Law School.
"The UK may also be concerned about the legality of their own demand to access encrypted messages. Riana Pfefferkorn, a cryptography policy fellow at Stanford University, said she sees a legal battle coming if the UK continues to force the issue, but she doesn't necessarily think the UK wants that fight.
"Riana Pfefferkorn, a legal fellow at Stanford University, agreed. She also said that this new software design choice may not specifically be about enhancing Fifth Amendment protections and trying to frustrate police efforts.
Registration is required for this free event.
With the DOJ recently bringing back the "Going Dark" debate, and now calling for "responsible encryption," what does the Trump administration have to say about strong crypto? Do we know yet? Do they?
If there's anyone who might be able to figure that out, it's Riana Pfefferkorn.
The EastWest Institute’s Global Cooperation in Cyberspace program anticipates future security risks, defines the outlines of potential conflict and brings together the people who can do something about it.
Lecture held during the First International Congress of Fundamental Rights and Criminal Procedure in the Digital Age, organized by InternetLab in partnership with the Faculty of Law of the University of São Paulo.
Cryptography Fellow Riana Pfefferkorn gave a lecture titled "The American debate on surveillance and encryption".
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).