Chris Jay Hoofnagle is director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology's information privacy programs and senior fellow to the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic. He is an expert in information privacy law. He teaches computer crime law and a seminar on the Federal Trade Commission and online advertising. Hoofnagle’s research focuses on the challenges in aligning consumer privacy preferences with commercial and government uses of personal information.
In collaboration with the National Science Foundation’s Team for Research In Ubiquitous Secure Technology (NSF-TRUST), Hoofnagle has led research teams studying the extent of tracking online. In a series of papers, this team has demonstrated that advertisers deliberately use obscure and difficult-to-block technologies to track Internet users.
In the identity theft space, Hoofnagle’s research suggests that effective interventions could focus on credit grantors rather than impostors or victims. His work shows that economic incentives drive credit grantors to overlook indicia of fraud, leading to problems such as “synthetic identity theft,” where impostors fabricate entirely new identities that are eligible for credit.
In 2008, Hoofnagle started a consumer privacy research project. The reports flowing from this project focus upon youth attitudes towards privacy, and perceptions of online advertising. While regulators and businesses expect consumers to negotiate for privacy in the market, this work shows that consumers mistakenly believe that laws conform business practices to their privacy preferences by default. This work also shows that young Internet users are similar to older cohorts in privacy attitudes and the desire for legal protections.
Prior to joining Berkeley Law, Hoofnagle was a non-residential fellow with Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society. Prior to that, Hoofnagle focused on regulation of telemarketing, financial services privacy, and credit reporting at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC. While at EPIC, Hoofnagle called attention to the civil liberties risks posed by the “little brothers"—private-sector information firms. His work has helped elucidate the problem that while the US government has created privacy rules for itself, these are easily circumvented through access to private-sector data firms.
Hoofnagle co-chairs the annual Privacy Law Scholars Conference. He is licensed to practice in California and Washington, DC.
B.A., University of Georgia, 1996
J.D., University of Georgia School of Law, 2000