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
On Wednesday, Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Cotton (R-AR) introduced a bipartisan bill that, if passed, will enhance the Senate Sergeant at Arm's ability to defend Senators and their staff from cyber threats.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, 2019 is shaping up to be a big year for increased transparency in our nation's courts. At CIS, we've had a whirlwind month of activity in several different cases:
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.
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."
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.