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Jonathan Zittrain
knee high portrait in sweater and slacks, holding papers in one hand and a marker in the other
Born December 24, 1970 (1970-12-24) (age 39)
Nationality American
Alma mater Yale University, Harvard Law School, John F. Kennedy School of Government
Occupation Professor
Employer Harvard University

Jonathan L. Zittrain (born December 24, 1970) is an American professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School and a faculty co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Previously, Zittrain was Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute of the University of Oxford and visiting professor at the New York University School of Law and Stanford Law School. He is the author, most recently, of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It; and co-editor of the book Access Denied.

Zittrain works in several intersections of the Internet with law and policy including intellectual property, censorship and filtering for content control and computer security. He founded an organization that develops classroom tools.[1]

Zittrain is sometimes referred to as "JZ" online.[2]


Family and education

knee high portrait, speaking into a microphone and pointing in a room with an arch made of bricks in a T-shirt
Zittrain speaking at iSummit07

Zittrain is the son of two attorneys, Ruth A. Zittrain and Lester E. Zittrain, who was the personal attorney of professional football star Joe Greene. In 2004 with Jennifer K. Harrison, Zittrain published The Torts Game: Defending Mean Joe Greene, a book the authors dedicated to their parents.[3] His brother Jeff is an established Bay Area musician [4][5]. His sister, Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg, is a prominent scholar of the Arab/Israeli conflict[6] and teaches at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.[7] He is unmarried and has no children.

Zittrain, who grew up in the suburb of Churchill outside of Pittsburgh, graduated in 1987 from Shady Side Academy, a private school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[8] He holds a bachelor's summa cum laude in cognitive science and artificial intelligence from Yale University, 1991, where he was a member of the Yale Political Union and Davenport College, a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, 1995, where he was the winner of the Williston Negotiation Competition, and a master of public administration from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, 1995.[9][10]

He was law clerk for Stephen F. Williams of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and served with the U.S. Department of Justice and in 1991 with the Department of State and at the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1992 and 1994.[11] He was a longtime forum administrator, or sysop, for the online service CompuServe, serving for many years as the chief administrator for its private forum for all of its forum administrators.[10]

Later career

waist high portrait wearing a T-shirt and holding a microphone

Zittrain joined the staff of the University of Oxford in Oxford in the United Kingdom as of September 2005.[12] He held the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation, was a principal of the Oxford Internet Institute, and was a Professorial Fellow of Keble College, which has developed a particular interest in computer science and public policy.[12] In the U.S., he was also the Jack N. & Lillian R. Berkman Visiting Professor for Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts and director and founder with Charles Nesson of its Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Zittrain was a visiting professor at the Stanford Law School in 2007[13] and was a visiting professor at New York University School of Law in New York City for the spring 2008 semester.

Zittrain taught or taught with others Harvard's courses on Cyberlaw: Internet Points of Control, The Exploding Internet: Building A Global Commons in Cyberspace, Torts, Internet & Society: The Technologies and Politics of Control, The Law of Cyberspace, The Law of Cyberspace: Social Protocols, Privacy Policy, The Microsoft Case and The High Tech Entrepreneur.[14] He searched for novel ways to use technology unobtrusively in the classroom,[15] founded H2O[16] at Harvard and used the system to teach his classes. Students are polled, assigned opposing arguments and use H2O to develop their writing skills. Students enrolled in his The Internet and Society class could participate both orally and via the Internet. A teaching fellow seated in the classroom supplied him with the comments received from students in real time via email as well as through "chat" or "instant message" from students participating in the class while logged into Second Life. ( [17]

He has been critical of the process used by ICANN, the International Telecommunication Union and the World Summit on the Information Society.[18] Although he describes their approach as in some ways simple and naïve, Zittrain sees more hope in the open Internet Engineering Task Force model and in the ethical code and assumption of good faith that govern Wikipedia.[19] He wrote in 2008, "Wikipedia—with the cooperation of many Wikipedians—has developed a system of self-governance that has many indicia of the rule of law without heavy reliance on outside authority or boundary."[19]

In 2009 Zittrain was elected to the Internet Society's Board of Trustees for a 4 year term.[20]

Internet filtering

The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) monitors Internet censorship by national governments. Between 2001 and 2003 at Harvard's Berkman Center, Zittrain and Benjamin Edelman studied Internet filtering. In their tests during 2002, when Google had indexed almost 2.5 billion pages, they found sites blocked, from approximately 100 in France and Germany to 2,000 in Saudi Arabia and 20,000 in the People's Republic of China. The authors published a statement of issues and a call for data that year.[21]

Building on the work done at the Berkman Center, ONI published special reports, case studies and bulletins beginning in 2004,[22] and as of 2008, offered research on filtering in 40 countries as well as by region of the world.[23] Today at ONI, with Ronald Deibert of the University of Toronto, John Palfrey who is the executive director of the Berkman Center, and Rafal Rohozinski of the University of Cambridge, Zittrain is a principal investigator.[24]

In 2001, Zittrain cofounded Chilling Effects with his students, including Wendy Seltzer, who had conceived of the site that monitors cease and desist letters. When its search results have been altered at the request of a national government, Google directs its users to Chilling Effects.[15][25]


On October 9, 2002, Zittrain and Lawrence Lessig argued a landmark case known as Eldred v. Ashcroft before the United States Supreme Court. As co-counsel for the plaintiff, they argued the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) was unconstitutional.[26] The court ruled 7–2 on January 15, 2003 to uphold the CTEA which extended existing copyrights 20 years, from the life of the author plus 50 years to plus 70 years. In the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the petitioners did "not challenge the CTEA's 'life-plus-70-years' time span itself. They maintain that Congress went awry not with respect to newly created works, but in enlarging the term for published works with existing copyrights." The court found that the act did "not exceed Congress' power" and that "CTEA's extension of existing and future copyrights does not violate the First Amendment".[27] Zittrain said in 2003 he was concerned that Congress will hear the same arguments after the 20-year extension passes, and that the Internet is causing a "cultural reassessment of the meaning of copyright".[28]


Zittrain smiling and Lessig speaking, both in suits
Zittrain and Lawrence Lessig speaking at Google in 2008

After Zittrain joined the staff at Oxford, Oxford and the Berkman Center founded in 2006 to function as a clearinghouse for what has become proliferation of malware.[29] Borrowing Wikipedia's "ethical code that encourages users to do the right thing rather than the required thing",[30] the organization wished to assign the task of data collection—and not analysis—about malware to Internet users at large.[29] When its scans find dangerous code, Google places StopBadware alerts in its search results and rescans later to determine whether a site had been cleaned.[31]

One of StopBadware's goals is to "preempt" the stifling of the Internet.[32] The founders think that centralized regulation could follow a serious Internet security breach, and that consumers might then choose to purchase closed, centrally managed solutions like tethered appliances that are modified by their vendor rather than owner, or might flee to services in walled gardens. In Zittrain's word, "generative" devices and platforms, including the Internet itself, offer an opening forward.[1] In 2007, he said, "...we're moving to software-as-service, which can be yanked or transformed at any moment. The ability of your PC to run independent code is an important safety valve."[33]

Reactions in the Boston Review accompanied the publication of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It in 2008. Support came from David D. Clark and Susan P. Crawford. Criticism ranged from Richard Stallman's finding no evidence of a flight to closed systems and his message that software developers need control and software patents must end,[34] to a request for cost-benefit analysis[35] to the belief that netizenship won't scale to the business world[36] to faith that consumers will buy only open, non-proprietary systems.[37]

Directed by Palfrey and Zittrain, StopBadware receives high-level guidance from its advisory board: Vint Cerf of Google, Esther Dyson, George He of Lenovo, Greg Papadopoulos of Sun Microsystems and Ari Schwartz of the Center for Democracy and Technology. The working group of Ben Adida, Scott Bradner, Beau Brendler, Jerry Gregoire, Eric L. Howes and Nart Villeneuve frames the project's research agenda and methodology and is the body who informs the public about StopBadware's work.[38] StopBadware is supported by AOL, Google, eBay/PayPal, Lenovo, Trend Micro and VeriSign and is advised by Consumer Reports WebWatch.[39]

Stock markets and spam

Writing with Laura Freider of Purdue University, Zittrain published Spam Works: Evidence from Stock Touts and Corresponding Market Activity to document the manipulation of stock prices via spam email.[40] They found evidence that "stocks experience a significantly positive return on days prior to heavy touting via spam" and that "prolific spamming greatly affects the trading volume of a targeted stock". Apart from transaction costs, the spammer in some circumstances earned over 4% while the average investor who bought on the day of receipt of the spam would lose more than 5% if they sold two days later.[41] Frieder said in 2006 that she knew of no other explanation for their results but that people do follow the stock tips in their spam email.[40]

Recent publications


  1. ^ a b Duffy Marsan, Carolyn (April 9, 2008). "How the iPhone is killing the 'Net". Network World (IDG). Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  2. ^ "The Future of the Internet - And How to Stop It". Berkman Center. April 25, 2006. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  3. ^ Zittrain, Jonathan L. and Jennifer K. Harrison (August 15, 2004). The Torts Game: Defending Mean Joe Greene. Aspen Publishers via Amazon Online Reader. xiv. ISBN 0-73-554509-X. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  4. ^ Blog post - Musical Interlude
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "School Calendar". Shady Side Academy. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  9. ^ "Speaker Bio". Province of British Columbia. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  10. ^ a b "Jonathan Zittrain". The Connecticut Forum. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  11. ^ "Zittrain to be intellectual property lecturer". Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  12. ^ a b "Professor Jonathan Zittrain". University of Oxford. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  13. ^ "Faceoff: Lessig vs. Zittrain". Stanford Law School. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  14. ^ "All courses related to Jonathan Zittrain". Berkman Center. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  15. ^ a b "Jonathan Zittrain". TechWeb and O'Reilly Media. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  16. ^ "Cyberlaw expert Jonathan Zittrain elected to University's first Chair of Internet Governance and Regulation". University of Oxford. March 16, 2005. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  17. ^ "Casing the Future". Harvard Magazine. 5 May. 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  18. ^ Zuckerman, Ethan (April 27, 2006). "Jonathan Zittrain: The Future of the Internet... and How to Stop It". WorldChanging. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  19. ^ a b Zittrain, Jonathan. "Chapter 6: The Lessons of Wikipedia, in The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It". Yale Books Unbound, Yale University Press. Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  20. ^ "Internet Society - Board of Trustees - 2009 BoT Elections:". 5 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-03. 
  21. ^ Zittrain, Jonathan and Edelman, Benjamin (October 24, 2003). "Documentation of Internet Filtering Worldwide". Retrieved 2008-04-17.  and Zittrain, Jonathan and Edelman, Benjamin (October 26, 2002). "Localized Google search result exclusions". Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  22. ^ "Reports". The OpenNet Initiative. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  23. ^ "Research". The OpenNet Initiative. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  24. ^ "About ONI". The OpenNet Initiative. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  25. ^ "About Us". Chilling Effects. Retrieved 2008-11-30. 
  26. ^ Maytal, Anat (February 21, 2002). "Professor To Present Case to Supreme Court". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  27. ^ "ELDRED V. ASHCROFT (01-618) 537 U.S. 186 (2003)". Supreme Court collection of Cornell Law School. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  28. ^ "The Year of the Copyright". Harvard Law Bulletin (The President and Fellows of Harvard College). Spring 2003. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  29. ^ a b Zittrain, Jonathan (April 14, 2008). The Future of the Internet--And How to Stop It. Yale University Press. pp. 159–161. ISBN 0-300124-87-2. 
  30. ^ Anthes, Gary (April 7, 2008). "The end of the Internet as we know it? Jonathan Zittrain fears the worst". Computerworld (International Data Group). Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  31. ^ " Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2008-04-16. 
  32. ^ Talbot, David (March 2006). "Q&A: Jonathan Zittrain". Technology Review (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).,258,p1.html. Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  33. ^ Graves, Lucas (January 2007). "End-Time for the Internet". Wired (CondéNet) (15.01): 15. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  34. ^ Stallman, Richard (March/April 2008). "‘The root of this problem is software controlled by its developer’". Boston Review 33 (2). Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  35. ^ Owen, Bruce M. (March/April 2008). "‘As long as flexibility has value to users, suppliers will have incentives to offer it’". Boston Review 33 (2). Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  36. ^ Grimes, Roger A. (March/April 2008). ‘Fixing Web insecurity requires more than a caring community’. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  37. ^ Varian, Hal (March/April 2008). "‘Ultimately, the best protection is an informed buyer who demands openness’". Boston Review 33 (2). Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  38. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 2008-04-17. 
  39. ^ (February 26, 2008). "StopBadware celebrates second anniversary; adds two new sponsors" (PDF). Press release. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 
  40. ^ a b Hulbert, Mark (September 10, 2006). "Stock Tips From Spam Aren't Just Silly. They're Costly.". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2008-04-19. 
  41. ^ Frieder, Laura and Zittrain, Jonathan (March 14, 2007). "Spam Works: Evidence from Stock Touts and Corresponding Market Activity". Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2006-11. Retrieved 2008-04-18. 

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