Photo of Steven M. WernikoffPhoto of Steven M. Wernikoff

Steven M. Wernikoff

Co-Leader, Data Security and Privacy Litigation Practice


Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, J.D.
  • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Managing Editor
  • Legal Clinic
Pennsylvania State University, B.A.
  • Journalism
  • with high distinction

Prior Employment

  • Federal Trade Commission, Office of Technology Research and Investigation, Enforcement Director, 2015-2017; Senior Staff Attorney, 2000-2015
  • Jenner & Block LLP, Chicago, IL, Associate, 1994-1997

Bar Admissions


  • U.S. District Court Judge George M. Marovich, Chicago, IL, Law Clerk, 1998-2000
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Ian H. Levin, Chicago, IL, Law Clerk, 1997-1998
News & Resources


Steve Wernikoff is a litigation and transactional partner who co-leads two of the firm's technology-based practice areas–the Data Security and Privacy Litigation group and the Autonomous Vehicle group. As a previous officer and senior enforcement attorney in the Federal Trade Commission's Office of Technology Research and Investigation, Steve possesses substantial experience with mobile and emerging technology, data security and privacy, advertising and marketing, connected devices, and big data matters. Steve draws on more than two decades of experience in both the private sector and public service to represent major corporations and startups in a broad array of industry sectors, including automotive, manufacturing, real estate, financial services, retail, education, media, and technology, as they navigate the ever-changing technology landscape.

  • Advises clients on a broad spectrum of evolving privacy and data security laws and self-regulatory best practices, including the California Consumer Privacy Act, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the CAN-SPAM Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
  • Counsels clients on advertising, marketing, and other e-commerce compliance matters, including email and mobile marketing, advertising substantiation, online affiliate and influencer marketing, and telemarketing
  • Guides clients regarding regulatory issues in the emerging autonomous vehicle space, including matters involving vehicle testing, permitting, data privacy and security, and sales and marketing
  • Defends clients in law enforcement investigations and litigation involving a wide range of regulatory and consumer protection issues, including privacy, data security, advertising, marketing, and e-commerce


Trunq, Founder, Chicago, IL, 2015-present

  • Sole founder of unique private messaging and personal cloud storage application
  • Member of 1871, Chicago's innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship center

News & Resources


Seminars & Events

  • “Affiliate Marketing Legal and Investigation Issues,” Panelist, Unsoliciated Communications Enforcement Network Meeting, Paris, France, October 2016
  • Overview of the Ransomware Threat,” Panel Moderator, FTC Fall Technology Series: Ransomware, Washington, D.C., September 2016
  • Adapting to Changing Regulatory, Legislative, and Enforcement Activities and Some Practical Pointers on Ways to Help American Businesses Remain Compliant,” Panelist, American Conference Institute’s 19th Advanced Global Legal & Compliance Forum on Cyber Security & Data Privacy and Protection, Chicago, IL, June 2016
  • Considering Security When Working with Third Parties,” Panel Moderator, Start with Security Conference, Chicago, IL, June 2016
  • “Regulatory Insights from a Corporate & Regulator Perspective,” Panelist, Chicago Bar Association Cyber Law and Data Privacy Committee, Chicago, IL, June 2016
  • “Challenges Protecting Consumers Posed by the Digital Revolution,” Presenter, Loyola University Chicago School of Law Symposium on Advertising in Digital Media: Disclosures and Transparency in Social Media, Chicago, IL, March 2016
  • “Sale Slash: Investigating and Prosecuting an Affiliate Marketing Fraud Operation,” Co-Presenter, Digital Crimes Consortium, Vienna, Austria, March 2016
  • “IoT Security,” Discussant, Messaging Malware Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group Meeting, San Francisco, CA, February 2016
  • “After the Breach,” Panelist, DePaul University Cyber-Risk Conference, Chicago, IL, December 2014
  • “Two Steps Ahead: Protect Your Digital Life,” Panelist, National Cyber Security Alliance event, Minneapolis, MN, December 2014
  • “The New Frontier: 2015 Predictions for Cyber Events,” Panelist, Chicagoland ACC and Corporate Inside Counsel event, Chicago, IL, September 2014
  • “U.S. Cybercrime and Data Security 2014: Understanding Today’s Changing Threat Landscape,” Panelist, Sandpiper Partners Breakfast Briefing, Chicago, IL, July 2014
  • “Mobile Threats,” Panelist, Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group Meeting, Montreal, Canada, October 2013
  • “Tackling the Legal Issues of Privacy & Data Security in a Mobile World,” Panelist, Chicago Bar Association Cyber Law and Data Privacy Committee, Chicago, IL, July 2013
  • “Consumer Protection and Antitrust Enforcement Developments & Compliance in Social Media,” Panelist, Mayer Brown Symposium on Social Media, Chicago, IL, March 2013
  • “Emerging Threats – Mobile Technology,” Panelist, London Action Plan meeting, London, England, October 2012
  • “Mobile Application Privacy Summit,” Panelist, App Developers Alliance, Chicago, IL, June 2012
  • “Emerging Technology and the Impact on Marketing and Promotions,” Panelist, ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law Roundtable, Chicago, IL, June 2012
  • “Data Security and Data Breach,” Panelist, Chicago Bar Association Cyber Law and Data Privacy Committee, Chicago, IL, June 2012
  • “Text Message Spam – Tracking Down the Perpetrators,” Presentor, FTC Common Ground Conference, Chicago, IL, June 2012
  • “Legal & Regulatory Issues Affecting Marketing & Advertising Professionals,” Panelist, University of Chicago Booth School of Business Roundtable, Chicago, IL, November 2011
  • “Authorities In Action: An Overview of Recent International Abuse Enforcement Cases,” Presenter, London Action Plan and Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group Meeting, Paris, France, October 2011
  • “Industry Regulation,” Panelist, DailyDealMedia Conference, Chicago, IL, September 2011
  • “Data Security: Protecting Your Clients and Your Company,” Panelist, Jenner & Block Data Security Conference, Panelist, Chicago, IL, September 2011
  • “Micro-Charges Case Study,” Presenter, Digital Crimes Consortium, Montreal, Canada, October 2010
  • “Cross Border Law Enforcement Case Studies” and “Electronic Commerce: Cat and Mouse 2.0,” Presenter, International Consumer Production Enforcement Network, Washington, D.C., May 2010
  • “Robocallers – Investigative Techniques and Litigation Strategies” and “Internet Investigations – Tracking Down the Online Scam,” Presenter, FTC Midwest Region Common Ground Conference, Chicago, IL, March 2010
  • “Legal Aspects of Cybercrime Enforcement,” Presenter, Digital Crimes Consortium, Redmond, WA, October 2009
  • “Collaborative Cybersecurity Case Studies,” Panel Moderator, Internet2 Collaborative Data-Driven Security for High Performance Networks Conference, May 2009
  • “Ecommerce and Consumer Issues,” Presenter, Indian Competition for Consumer Protection conference, New Delhi, India, March 2009
  • “Web Security and Malware,” Presenter, SC Magazine World Congress, New York, NY, December 2008
  • “Cross Border Investigation and Case Studies,” Presenter, Anti-Spam Summit, Wiesbaden, Germany, October 2008
  • “If the Government Comes to Call,” Presenter, FTC-BBB Rules of the Road for Advertisers conference, Minneapolis, MN, April 2008
  • “Legal Aspects in Internet Threat Investigations and Prosecutions,” Presenter, London Action Plan and EU Contact Network of Spam Authorities Meeting, Arlington, Virginia, October 2007
  • “ID Theft & Security Breaches,” Presenter, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Chicago, IL, May 2007
  • “Law Enforcement Collaboration and Training,” Presenter, 9th Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group Meeting, San Francisco, CA, January 2007
  • “Spam Enforcement” and “International Cooperation,” Presenter, London Action Plan and EU Contact Network of Spam Authorities Meeting, Brussels, Belgium, December 2006
  • “Technology and eCommerce Law – Safety Issues Online,” Presenter, International Bar Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, September 2006
  • “Spam Enforcement,” Presenter, National Cyber Forensics Training Alliance, Slam Spam II Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, July 2006
  • “Dot.COMpliance: Special Consideration for E-tailers,” Presenter, FTC Rules of the Road for Advertisers Conference, Chicago, IL, March 2005
  • “Spam and Spyware and Security Breaches,” Presenter, Kirkland & Ellis’s Sixth Annual Advertising Law Seminar, Chicago, IL, June 2004
  • “A Computer Law Update: Spam, Pop-Ups, Hacking, Theft of Trade Secrets and Other Security Issues,” Presenter, Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago and The John Marshall Law School Internet Law Seminar, Chicago, IL, November 2003
  • “DOT.COMpliance: Information About Online Advertising,” Presenter, FTC Rules for the Road for Advertisers, Louisville, KY, September 2003
  • “Internet Auction Fraud,” Presenter, DOJ and FTC Internet Investigative Techniques Conference, Minneapolis, MN, June 2001
  • “Ethical E-commerce,” Presenter, Chicago Better Business Bureau Conference, Chicago, IL, November 2000



  • Louis D. Brandeis Award for Sustained Excellence in Litigation in Conduct of Significant Cases, 2010 (highest award given annually to a single FTC attorney)

  • Janet D. Steiger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Mobile & Emerging Payments Team, 2014

  • Paul Rand Dixon Award for Outstanding Analytical, Research and Investigative Skills, 2013

  • Director’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Consumer Protection, 2008 and 2002

Academic Appointments

Northwestern University School of Law, Adjunct Professor, 2004-2007

  • Seminar concerning internet fraud, online advertising, and privacy issues

The John Marshall Law School, Adjunct Instructor, 1998-2004

  • LL.M.-level internet fraud seminar covering legal brief writing, computer research skills, and oral advocacy