Riana Pfefferkorn is the Associate Director of Surveillance and Cybersecurity at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Her work 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
Right now, Chinese users of WeChat, an app that includes text, video, and picture messaging plus a Facebook-style news feed (among many other features), can't message each other a meme of Winnie the Pooh. Why not? Because, being short and rotund, he supposedly evokes an unflattering comparison to President Xi Jinping.
I'm pleased to have written the cover story for the latest issue of NWLawyer, the magazine of the Washington State Bar Association. The article, available here, discusses the impact that so-called "deepfake" videos may have in the context of the courtroom. Are existing authentication standards for admission of evidence sufficient, or should the rules be changed? What ethical challenges will deepfakes pose for attorneys? How will deepfakes affect juries?
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Crypto & Privacy Village, which is part of the massive DEF CON computer security conference (and which I help organize). My talk was about a topic that basically everyone seems to be interested in: Can you invoke your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when the police demand that you unlock your smartphone? The answer, unsurprisingly, is: It depends.
Attorney General Bill Barr gave a speech yesterday at Fordham that revived the encryption debate in the U.S. after a relatively quiet period. Since the departure of Rod Rosenstein, we hadn’t had a federal law enforcement official out there regularly giving speeches condemning encryption (though FBI Director Chris Wray threw his hat in here and there).
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.
Amicus brief of Electronic Frontier Foundation and Riana Pfefferkorn in support of Petitioners-Appellants Jason Leopold and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, filed in the D.C. Circuit. The petition in the court below sought to unseal certain sealed surveillance matters in the District of D.C.'s docket and also sought prospective changes to enhance the transparency of the court's surveillance docket going forward.
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.
"Riana Pfefferkorn, associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, said the strategy provided a false choice. "There’s this fundamental gut-level disgust that basically everyone has for the abuse of children,” Pfefferkorn said. “So, you can paint people who are trying to protect security and enhance [digital] protections as unsympathetic to preventing child sex abuse. I think it’s extremely cynical.”
"“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."
Advanced technologies are revolutionizing how the government investigates, charges and prosecutes criminal cases—and defense attorneys must keep pace. Even small police departments can purchase powerful surveillance technologies, and internet companies collect vast troves of data on virtually everyone. This two-day CLE conference will discuss the government's use of technologically advanced investigative techniques in criminal cases, and the issues raised by those techniques under the Fourth Amendment and other federal law.
New software tools use artificial intelligence to create realistic-looking but fake videos of real people seeming to say and do things they never did. These so-called "deepfakes" will soon cause a number of problems for the courts, particularly when it comes to authenticating evidence in litigation. They may even undermine the justice system by eroding juries' belief in the knowability of what is real. Come discuss the implications of deepfakes for trial practice with CIS Associate Director of Surveillance and Cybersecurity Riana Pfefferkorn.
Since its start in 2001, the SF ISACA Fall Conference continues to be the premier education event for information technology audit, security, governance, risk and compliance professionals in Northern California. The SF ISACA Fall conference features five tracks packed with top flight speakers and cutting edge topics. CIS's Riana Pfefferkorn and Ryan Singel will be speaking at the event.
For more information visit the conference website.
The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) is a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School and a part of Law, Science and Technology Program at Stanford Law School.
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.