John Villasenor

Visiting Fellow
Biography: 

John Villasenor is on the faculty at UCLA, where he is a professor of electrical engineering, public policy, and management, and a visiting professor of law. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Villasenor’s work considers the broader impacts of key technology trends, including the move to the cloud, the globalization of technology product design and manufacturing, advances in digital communications and electronics, and the increasing complexity of today’s networks and systems. He writes frequently on these topics and on their implications with respect to cybersecurity, privacy, and law. He has published in the Atlantic, Billboard, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Fast Company, Forbes, the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Scientific American, Slate, the Washington Post, and many academic journals. He has also provided congressional testimony on multiple occasions on topics including drones, privacy, and intellectual property law.

Villasenor leads a Department of Homeland Security-funded research project at Stanford directed to improving cybersecurity for U.S. critical infrastructure. He also serves as co-director of the Brookings Institution’s Financial and Digital Inclusion Project, a Gates Foundation-funded effort aimed at examining ways to broaden access to formal financial services.

Before joining the faculty at UCLA, Villasenor was with the National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he developed methods of imaging the earth from space. He holds a BS from the University of Virginia and an MS and PhD from Stanford University. Villasenor is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Cybersecurity, and an affiliate at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Colleges Should Change How They Handle Sexual Assault

by Lara Bazelon, John Villasenorvia The Washington Post
Thursday, July 27, 2017

This month, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos signaled that her department will likely revise an Obama administration policy on how colleges and universities handle campus sexual assaults.

Analysis and Commentary

No, The Laws Of Australia Don’t Override The Laws Of Mathematics

by John Villasenorvia Lawfare
Monday, July 17, 2017

According to published news reports, the Australian government plans to “introduce draft legislation that will attempt to force technology companies to break into end-to-end encrypted messages.”

John Villasenor: Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Innovation, Integration, Successes, and Challenges

by John Villasenor
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

John Villasenor's testimony in front of the Senate Commerce Committee 

Analysis and Commentary

How Immigrants Have Made America A Leader In Technology Innovation

by John Villasenorvia The Chronicle of Higher Education
Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The vital role of immigrants in American technology innovation is so well documented that it shouldn’t need repeating. But in light of last week’s executive order that blocks access to the United States by citizens of seven countries with a collective population of well over 200 million, a few reminders might be timely.

Analysis and Commentary

Is A Higher Standard Needed For Campus Sexual Assault Cases?

by John Villasenorvia The New York Times
Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Title IX tribunals that have proliferated on U.S. college campuses since 2011 have been enormously problematic.

Analysis and Commentary

A Probabilistic Framework For Modelling False Title IX ‘Convictions’ Under The Preponderance Of The Evidence Standard

by John Villasenorvia Oxford Journals
Friday, October 14, 2016

Conviction in criminal trials in the USA, the UK and many other common law countries requires establishing a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Analysis and Commentary

Ensuring Cybersecurity In Fintech: Key Trends And Solutions

by John Villasenorvia Forbes
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Exciting things are happening these days at the intersection of digital technology and financial services. The fintech startup ecosystem is thriving, thanks in part to an infusion of $14.5 billion globally in venture funding in 2015, up from $7.3 billion in 2014. 

Analysis and Commentary

What Cybersecurity Can Teach Us About Campus Physical Security

by John Villasenorvia Forbes
Friday, June 3, 2016

As a UCLA faculty member who works on critical infrastructure cybersecurity, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to secure the complex networks and systems that deliver our energy, water, food, and data. Given the tragic June 1 murder-suicide at UCLA, it’s particularly timely to consider some important security analogies between those systems and physical spaces such as university campuses.

Analysis and Commentary

Wireless Networks Should Provide Cell Records To Officers After An Accident

by John Villasenorvia The New York Times
Monday, May 2, 2016

In the long term, driverless cars will provide an important component of the solution to the pressing and dangerous problem of distracted driving. But when human drivers are behind the wheel, law enforcement officers should have the ability to find out whether texting may have been a contributing factor to an accident. 

Analysis and Commentary

Some Key Issues In The Apple iPhone Decryption Matter

by John Villasenorvia Forbes
Sunday, February 21, 2016

As many people are well aware, on February 16 a U.S. magistrate issued an order compelling Apple to assist the government in bypassing the security features of an iPhone 5C used by one of the perpetrators of the December 2015 San Bernardino attack. 

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