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
On October 10, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein gave a speech at the U.S. Naval Academy about encryption. I have a lot to say about his remarks, so this will be a long post. Much of Rosenstein’s speech recycled the same old chestnuts that law enforcement’s been repeating about crypto for years. I’m happy to roast those chestnuts.
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.
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.
"Apple could argue that being required to create and provide specific computer code amounts to unlawful compelled speech, said Ms Riana Pfefferkorn, a cryptography fellow at Stanford University's Centre for Internet and Society.
The order against Apple is novel because it compels the company to create a new forensic tool to use, not just turn over information in Apple's possession, Ms Pfefferkorn said."
"Apple could argue that being required to create and provide specific computer code amounts to unlawful compelled speech, said Riana Pfefferkorn, a cryptography fellow at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society.
The order against Apple is novel because it compels the company to create a new forensic tool to use, not just turn over information in Apple's possession, Pfefferkorn said. "I think there is a significant First Amendment concern," she said."
"Apple could argue that being required to create and provide specific computer code amounts to unlawful compelled speech, said Riana Pfefferkorn, a cryptography fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society.
The order against Apple is novel because it compels the company to create a new forensic tool to use, not just turn over information in Apple’s possession, Pfefferkorn said. “I think there is a significant First Amendment concern,” she said."
"If Apple is forced to comply with the order, it could have unintended consequences for users of its devices, and could change international regard for cyber-security issues involving the American company, said Riana Pfefferkorn, a fellow at The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.
"If Apple agrees to write a special code for the U.S. government, what about China and Russia and other countries? That could deal a policy blow to America's stance that we are distinct in this area," she said in a telephone interview.
"As for the potential of a free-speech argument, Reuters spoke with cryptology expert Riana Pfefferkorn, a fellow at Stanford University's Center for Internet and Society, who said Apple could assert the FBI's request for a software workaround as tantamount to unlawful compelled speech. Since Apple contends such forensics tools do not currently exist, it would be forced to write computer code specifically for that purpose, Pfefferkorn said."
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).