John Villasenor

Senior Fellow

John Villasenor is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and is also on the faculty at UCLA, where he is a professor of electrical engineering, public policy, law, and management. Villasenor’s work considers the technology, policy, and legal issues arising from key technology trends, including the growth of artificial intelligence and the increasing complexity and interdependence of today’s networks and systems.

He has published in the AtlanticBillboard, the Chronicle of Higher EducationFast CompanyForbes, the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York TimesScientific AmericanSlate, the Washington Post, and many academic journals. He has also provided congressional testimony on multiple occasions on topics including privacy and intellectual property law.

Before joining the faculty at UCLA, Villasenor was with the National Aeronautics 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 and an affiliate at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford.

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Recent Commentary

Analysis and Commentary

Texas’s New Social Media Law Is Likely To Face An Uphill Battle In Federal Court

by John Villasenorvia Brookings Institution
Tuesday, November 9, 2021

In early September, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 20, a new social media law targeting what Gov. Abbott called “a dangerous movement by social media companies to silence conservative viewpoints and ideas.”


John Villasenor On Living Lab Radio

interview with John Villasenorvia Living Lab Radio
Sunday, June 23, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow John Villasenor discusses deep fakes and notes that deep fakes are an unavoidable part of our media landscape, something we all need to be aware of when viewing videos online.

Analysis and Commentary

How Ritualized Apologies Are Undermining Freedom Of Expression

by Ilana Redstone Akresh, John Villasenorvia Quillette
Sunday, November 18, 2018

“I want to apologize. I recognize that this moment is a deeply painful one—internally and externally,” wrote Facebook’s VP of public policy, Joel Kaplan, in a Sep. 28 note to Facebook staff. This followed the publication of photographs showing Kaplan’s attendance at Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kaplan’s presence in the hearing room led to a wave of objections voiced on internal message boards by Facebook employees. 

Analysis and Commentary

Artificial Intelligence And The Future Of Geopolitics

by John Villasenorvia Brookings Institution
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

On September 1, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a nationwide group of Russian students on their first day of school. “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind,” he said. “Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

Analysis and Commentary

Did The Ford/Kavanaugh Testimony Change Minds? For Young Men, Yes; For Young Women, Not So Much

by John Villasenorvia Forbes
Friday, September 28, 2018

Millions of people across America tuned in to see Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testify at the September 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. But did it change people’s minds? A new pair of polls conducted just before and after the hearing suggests that for young men, it did, and for young women, not nearly as much.

Analysis and Commentary

3 Ways That Colleges Suppress A Diversity Of Viewpoints

by John Villasenor, Ilana Redstone Akreshvia The Chronicle of Higher Education
Friday, September 28, 2018

As colleges adopt an ever-growing array of diversity programs, one form is still in woefully short supply, with little effort being directed toward a remedy: diversity of viewpoints. The lack of an array of freely voiced perspectives on social and political issues is buttressed by a strict set of largely unwritten rules constraining the opinions that can be expressed on campuses, the research that can be performed, the discussions that can be held.

Analysis and Commentary

Decrypting The Compelled Decryption Fight Over Facebook Messenger

by John Villasenorvia Forbes
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

On August 17, Reuters reported that in a court case proceeding under seal in California, the “U.S. government is trying to force Facebook Inc to break the encryption in its popular Messenger app so law enforcement may listen to a suspect’s voice conversations in a criminal probe.” This immediately calls to mind the 2016 court battle between the government and Apple over access to data on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Cyberspectives: National Cybersecurity Priorities With Andrew Grotto

by John Villasenor interview with Andrew Grottovia Cyberspectives
Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Introducing Cyberspectives, a new podcast analyzing the cyber issues of today with host John Villasenor. In the inaugural episode, guest Andrew Grotto provides analysis on a broad range of cyber issues, including questions regarding areas of cyber most in need of national level attention, aspects of cyber that are underappreciated, emerging opportunities in the commercial cybersecurity sector, and how the academic community can best contribute to the cyber policy dialog.

Analysis and Commentary

Colleges Should Change How They Handle Sexual Assault

by John Villasenor, Lara Bazelonvia 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.”