Sebastian Benthall, PhD

Research Fellow,
Cornell Tech

PhD, School of Information
University of California at Berkeley

I'm a researcher with a multidisciplinary background in computer, data, and social sciences, business, and philosophy. My current research foci are privacy engineering and software assurance.

Current Research Roles

Digital Life Initiative

I'm a Research Fellow at Cornell Tech's Digital Life Initiative, where I research applications of contextual integrity in computer science and information economics.

Ion Channel

I'm also a data scientist at Ion Channel, a software supply chain intelligence startup. Check out this presentation of some of our cybersecurity work:


Sebastian Benthall. Context, Causality, and Information Flow: Implications for Privacy Engineering, Security, and Data Economics. Ph.D. dissertation. Advisors: John Chuang and Deirdre Mulligan. University of California, Berkeley. 2018. (eScholarship) (slideshare)

Abstract:The creators of technical infrastructure are under social and legal pressure to comply with expectations that can be difficult to translate into computational and business logics. This dissertation bridges this gap through three projects that focus on privacy engineering, information security, and data economics, respectively. These projects culminate in a new formal method for evaluating the strategic and tactical value of data: data games. This method relies on a core theoretical contribution building on the work of Shannon, Dretske, Pearl, Koller, and Nissenbaum: a definition of situated information flow as causal flow in the context of other causal relations and strategic choices.


Security and Privacy

Empirical Social Science

Philosophy of Science and Technology



My research involves writing a lot of software.


In Fall 2013 I co-instructed a course on Open Collaboration and Peer Production with Thomas Maillart. It was aimed primarily at Masters students at the School of Information, fulfilling a Management requirement. My instruction was based mostly on my professional experience working in and managing open source software communities.

In Fall 2015 I co-organized a seminar on Superintelligence and the Social Sciences with Mahendra Prasad.


2018 - Completed PhD in Information Management and Systems.

2016 - Began postdoctoral work (though ABD) at NYU/Cornell Tech in privacy by design under Prof. Helen Nissenbaum.

2016 - Joined Ion Channel as data scientist.

2011 - Began PhD Program at UC Berkeley's School of Information.

2007 - 2011 : Worked in programming, management, and marketing in geospatial civic tech company, OpenGeo.

2007 - B.A., Brown University, Cognitive Science.

On the Web

bio blog twitter linkedin github slideshare


e-mail: spb413 at nyu dot edu