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 January 17, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued its opinion in State v. Diamond. It affirmed the appellate court’s holding that compelling a defendant to provide a fingerprint to unlock a seized cellphone (for which police had a warrant) did not violate the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
My article Everything Radiates: Does the Fourth Amendment Regulate Side-Channel Cryptanalysis?, 49 Conn. L. Rev. 1393 (2017), has recently been published by the Connecticut Law Review. You can download it from SSRN here. I contributed this piece as part of my participation in the law review's 2017 Symposium last January.
The following are my opening remarks for the encryption panel during the IGF 2017 main session, "Local interventions, global impacts: How can international, multistakeholder cooperation address Internet disruptions, encryption, and data flows?"
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.
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.
Abstract. Federal law enforcement officials in the United States have recently renewed their periodic demands for legislation to regulate encryption. While they offer few technical specifics, their general proposal—that vendors must retain the ability to decrypt for law enforcement the devices they manufacture or communications their services transmit—presents intractable problems that would-be regulators must not ignore.
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.
Encryption shields private information from malicious eavesdroppers. After years of slow adoption, encryption is finally becoming widespread in consumer-oriented electronic devices and communications services. Consumer-oriented encryption software is now more user-friendly, and much of it turns on encryption by default. These advances enhance privacy and security for millions of people.
"Riana Pfefferkorn -- who helped write an amicus brief on Apple's behalf (along with several other security researchers and professors) -- pointed out on Twitter that Cellebrite's hacking is exactly the sort of risk the government refused to seriously contemplate during its pursuit of an All Writs Order forcing Apple to open up the phone for the FBI."
"Jennifer Granick, director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, explained that separating the needs of law enforcement from the public’s rights under the Constitution is not as simple as it might seem. She calls this policy battle the third “crypto war.”
"Riana Pfefferkorn, a legal researcher and attorney at Stanford University, told Ars:
With there being a fair number of cases out there that have taken a pretty dim view of plaintiff standing in these sorts of mass surveillance cases—he will have an uphill battle unless he has an extra ace up the sleeve to show that he was personally subjected to the surveillance that he was challenging."
"Two lawyers and legal researchers based at Stanford University have formally asked a federal court in San Francisco to unseal numerous records of surveillance-related cases, as a way to better understand how authorities seek such powers from judges. This courthouse is responsible for the entire Northern District of California, which includes the region where tech companies such as Twitter, Apple, and Google, are based.
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.
"While the battle against encryption has been going on within federal law enforcement circles (dubbed "going dark") since at least the early 1990s, Rosenstein has now called for "responsible encryption."
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.