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
On September 18, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed a new policy for collecting immigrants’ social media information.
In September 2016, we filed a Petition in the Northern District of California (the federal district court for the Bay Area and much of Northern California) asking the court to unseal years’ worth of surveillance matters filed there. We had our first hearing before the court on May 4.
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.
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.
Submission to the Australian Independent National Security Legislation Monitor's review of the Assistance and Access Act 2018.
The client shows his lawyer a video he says he took on his cell phone. It shows the defendant saying things that, if seen by the jury, will be a slam dunk for the client’s case. The attorney includes the video in her list of evidence for trial, but the defendant’s lawyers move to strike. They claim it’s a fake. What’s the plaintiff’s lawyer—and the judge—to do?
Welcome to trial practice in the new world of "deepfake" videos.
Submission to Australia's Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) regarding its review of the Assistance and Access Act that had passed into law in early December 2018.
Opening brief of Movants-Appellants EFF, ACLU, and Riana Pfefferkorn to the Ninth Circuit in our appeal from the district court's denial of our motion to unseal filings 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.
The key term that recurs throughout Henry Farrell’s and Bruce Schneier’s essay is “trust.” That is no surprise, as the concept unites both authors’ bodies of work: Schneier, a security expert, and Farrell, a political scientist, have each written books about it. Security enables trust, and trust enables a functioning democracy.
"“The (Supreme) Court says the record is way too thin to justify such a sweeping invasion into his private life,” said Riana Pfefferkorn, a researcher who teaches about cybersecurity law at Stanford University. “Probationers have reduced constitutional rights, but they still have rights, and if the state is to be allowed to intrude upon them to the severe degree that an electronics search condition permits, that invasion has to be justified, and it wasn’t here.”"
"“Even if the phones are well secured, allowing the vendor to take the data off the device and store it on their servers would be a source of security risk,” said Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society. “Obviously this data, if held by a private vendor, would be a target for hacking by America’s enemies. Plus, careless security practices could lead to a data breach, or the data could be compromised due to an insider threat, such as an employee selling it without authorization.”"
"Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, said the issue of compelling defendants to give up access to their phones may be an issue the Supreme Court ultimately takes up, too.
“The constitutional questions are still developing,” Pfefferkorn said."
"“Absolutely, requests for large swaths of data increase the chances for innocent people to be swept up in investigations,” said Pfefferkorn.
“Users should know and be aware that their information can be disclosed to law enforcement,” she added. “As we continue to deepen the amount of data we generate about ourselves, there will naturally be a move for police to get access to that.”"
"“Sophisticated criminals will continue to have access to encryption even if the law is changed,” said Riana Pfefferkorn, the associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society."
Associate Director of Surveillance and Cybersecurity | Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School
Compelled Device Decryption and the Fifth Amendment
You can unlock your smartphone with a passcode, your finger, even your face. When the cops demand you decrypt your phone or other device for them, can you successfully invoke your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination? Well, it depends. This talk quickly walks through the when, where, why, and how of compelled decryption and the Fifth Amendment under current case law. It ends with some practical takeaways, including "don't talk to the cops" and "stay out of Florida."
A media nonprofit summit celebrating World Press Freedom Day.
Hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists, the oldest and most broad-based journalism professional association in the United States.
In this episode, The Stream speaks with tech industry experts and policy analysts to explore whether the Indian government’s plan will ensure public safety or set a dangerous precedent.
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.