John Villasenor

Senior Fellow

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

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.

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 and an affiliate at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford.

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Recent Commentary

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

by John Villasenorvia US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
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. 

Analysis and Commentary

If Apple Can Create A Backdoor To The iPhone, Could Someone Else?

by John Villasenorvia Forbes
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

On February 16, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym issued an order compelling Apple to assist the government in bypassing the security features of an iPhone 5C that belonged to one of the perpetrators of the December 2015 San Bernardino attack. Apple quickly responded with a lengthy statement from CEO Tim Cook calling the order a “dangerous precedent.” 

Analysis and Commentary

Over-Criminalization And Mens Rea Reform: A Primer

by John Villasenorvia Brookings Institution
Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Last month, two bills were introduced in the House and Senate that address mens rea reform. “Mens rea” is a Latin phrase sometimes translated as “guilty mind,” and refers to the issue of intent in crime.