In the News


Christopher Hoofnagle in the news:



Spyware firm tied to iPhone hack has U.S. ties

Chris Hoofnagle quoted by USA Today, August 26, 2016

“We are at this place because of law enforcement frustration with access to data in investigations. And so we are going to continue to see law enforcement agencies, even from legitimate democratic states, buying ‘hacking tools’ so that crimes that occur within their own borders can be investigated,” said Chris Hoofnagle.


You’re being tracked (and tracked and tracked) on the web

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted by IEEE Spectrum, August 23, 2016

“It’s not so much that I would invest a lot of confidence in the idea that there were X number of trackers on any given site,” Hoofnagle says of the University of Washington team’s results. “Rather, it’s the trend that’s important.”


Want cheaper Internet access? Hand over your privacy

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted by Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2016

“What Comcast is saying is somewhat akin to the water authority offering a discount for less purified water,” Hoofnagle said. “It is time to conceive of broadband as a utility, one that needs to satisfy basic standards for quality, which include freedom from unwarranted surveillance.”


Kanye West may have broken the law by recording Taylor Swift call

Christopher Hoofnagle and Paul Schwartz quoted in The Guardian, July 19, 2016

“California is an ‘all-party consent’ wiretapping state. What that means is, even on things like a conference call, before you record it, you’re supposed to announce to everyone, ‘I’m going to record this call,’” said Chris Hoofnagle. … “There’s civil and criminal liability.”

Paul Schwartz … said Swift could also bring a “tort claim” alleging “public disclosure of private facts.”


Abortion opponents’ creepy new tactic: Invade women’s cellphones

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted in Mother Jones, May 26, 2016

“Privacy law in the U.S. is technology- and context-dependent,” Hoofnagle said. “As an example, the medical information you relay to your physician is very highly protected, but if you go to a medical website and search for ‘HIV’ or ‘abortion,’ that information is not protected at all.”


Anti-choice groups use smartphone surveillance to target ‘abortion-minded women’ during clinic visits

Christopher Hoofnagle interviewed by Rewire, May 25, 2016

“The reality of this stuff is that no one’s asking what marketers will do with their information when they click, ‘I Agree,’ when an app asks if it can use their location,” Hoofnagle said. “If one consents to that tracking, and consents for it to be used for advertising purposes, that’s pretty much the end of the story.”


When you buy digital content on Amazon or iTunes, you don’t exactly own it

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted by Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2016

“Language like ‘buy now’ confuses the contexts of offline and online purchasing,” Hoofnagle said.


UC-Berkeley students sue Google, alleging their emails were illegally scanned

Christopher Jay Hoofnagle quoted by The Washington Post, Feb. 1, 2016

“Google could use information it gleans from the messages for its own purposes – purposes it does not have to disclose to us,” Hoofnagle said. “In effect, Google could act as an intelligence agency, deeply mining relationships and ideas among groups of people,” such as new inventions students and staff at Berkeley are developing.


UC Berkeley students file lawsuit against Google alleging illegal scanning of emails

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted in The Daily Californian, Jan. 31, 2016

“(The data mining) would allow Google to understand the meaning of all of our communications: the identities of the people with whom we collaborate, the compounds of drugs we are testing, the next big thing we are inventing,” Hoofnagle wrote. “Imagine the creative product of all of Berkeley combined, scanned by a single company’s ‘free’ email system.”


FTC’s PrivacyCon highlights consumer privacy perceptions and targeting

Christopher Hoofnagle interviewed by Technology Law Dispatch, Jan. 25, 2016

“If you look at today’s Commission actions, their false advertising theories are much more in line with how consumers really understand ads and how consumers really act,” said Chris Jay Hoofnagle. … “That has not come over to the privacy side.”


Internet providers want to know more about you than Google does

Christopher Hoofnagle interviewed by The Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2016

“An ISP has access to your full pipe and can see everything you do” online if you aren’t taking extra steps to shield your activities, said Chris Hoofnagle. … Other than corporate privacy policies, he said, nothing under current law prevents broadband companies from sharing information with marketers about what types of Web sites you visit.


Consumers duped by native ads

Christopher Hoofnagle and Eduard Meleshinsky paper cited on MediaPost, Jan. 4, 2016

“Our findings suggest that even with a prominent disclosure, a substantial number of consumers are misled about the advertising nature of advertorials,” Hoofnagle and Eduard Meleshinsky, a former Berkeley Law Public Interest Fellow, write in Technology Science.


Court says the FTC can slap companies for getting hacked

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted in Wired, August 24, 2015

“The law has always imposed responsibility on companies for the care of their customers. When you’re in the restaurant you have to be protected against slips and falls or food-borne illness,” says Hoofnagle. “Data is just something new that companies have to protect if they want to bear the benefits of collecting it.”


For tech titans, sharing has its limits

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted in The New York Times, March 14, 2015

Christopher Hoofnagle … said that while it was noteworthy that data merchants were seeking greater personal privacy themselves, they also may well be on the right track. A nondisclosure agreement, which keeps intimate information from ever getting online where it can spread, “is the sensible thing to do.”


The cyberattack on Sony Pictures made employees collateral damage

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted in The Washington Post, December 3, 2014

“This attack looks more like a crime meant to harm the victim than to extract some economic benefit, which makes it very different from the card breaches and the like.”


91 percent of Americans say consumers have ‘lost control’ of online privacy

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted in Deseret News National, November 12, 2014

“Companies can confuse the user by promoting ‘trust’ or brand awareness instead of real privacy protections,” Hoofnagle said.


Google has been scanning users’ emails

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted in Pacific Daily News, September 16, 2014

It turns out that Google, which bases its business on collecting and analyzing huge reams of data for advertising purposes, has been scanning users’ emails even before users have a chance to open or read them, including email messages that are deleted without being opened.


Exit, voice, and the privacy paradox

Christopher Hoofnagle writes for Medium, August 4, 2014

Privacy surveys find that individuals care about privacy, but any observer of social networks can find a great deal of profligate, ill-advised information sharing. 


The robot defense: how Google saw privacy before Snowden

Chris Hoofnagle quoted on PBS Frontline, May 20, 2014

“Gmail was a privacy disaster,” Chris Hoofnagle, director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, told Frontline. “The moment you allow people to look at the content of your communication for some advertising purpose is the moment that the government is going to come along and say, ‘If you’re going to let them listen in for advertising, why don’t you let us listen in for anti-terrorism or for serious crimes?’”


Google fights e-mail privacy group suit calling it too big

Chris Hoofnagle quoted in Bloomberg Businessweek, February 27, 2014
Chris Hoofnagle … said in an e-mail that while the Google case is “very important,” courts “almost never award the full amount of potential statutory damages in privacy cases. Defendants in these cases often have mitigating circumstances that reduce damage awards, and they argue that extra-large awards violate their due process.”