Steve Wernikoff is a litigation and compliance partner who co-leads the Data, Privacy, and Cybersecurity practice and the Autonomous Vehicle group. As a previous senior enforcement attorney at 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, artificial intelligence, 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 Protection Regulation, and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
  • Counsels and defends clients in advertising, marketing, and other e-commerce consumer 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



Representative Matters

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

Prior Experience

  • 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


  • 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

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






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

News & Insights



  • Deciphering Automotive Cybersecurity and Safe Data Protection: Legal Insights for In-House and Outside Counsel
    Event | | | Speaker
  • "Work From Home: Home Alone! Staying Cyber Safe,” ICSC + U.S. Law Conference, Phoenix, AZ, October 26, 2023

  • “Best Practices Surrounding the Collection, Use, and Sharing of Data in AI,” State Bar of Michigan Information Technology Annual Law Seminar, Plymouth, MI, September 21, 2023

  • "Exploring the Challenges and Strategies for Privacy and Data Protection in Global Enterprises,” Global GRC, Data Privacy & Cyber Security ConfEx, Virtual Event, June 28, 2023

  • “State Privacy Law Changes Are Coming: Are You Ready?” ALM | Law.com General Counsel Conference Midwest, Chicago, IL April 19, 2023

  • “The FTC and the Tech Industry: Enforcement Efforts and New Priorities,” Speaker, 14th Annual Information Technology Law Seminar, State Bar of Michigan Information Technology Law Section, Virtual Event, September 9, 2021
  • “Recent Legal Updates and Practical Takeaways,” Panelist, PrivacyConnect Minneapolis, Virtual Event, June 15, 2021
  • No Hands:  The Future of Autonomous Vehicles,” Moderator, Association for Corporate Growth Western Michigan, Webinar, September 24, 2020
  • “Liability: balanced distribution of risk,” Panelist, Autolex Automotive Legal Forum 2020, Virtual Event, September 3, 2020
  • “Scams, Schemes & Frauds – Protecting Yourself and Your Clients,” Presentation, Data Security for Lawyers: Sensibly Protecting Information in Unusual Times, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, June 12, 2020
  • “How is the Testing and Deployment of Autonomous Vehicles Being Regulated?,” Presentation, Autonomous Vehicles Online, May 27, 2020
  • “Privacy and Cybersecurity Considerations Concerning the Collection, Use, and Sharing of Vehicle Data,” Keynote and moderator, ADAS & AV Legal Issues & Liabilities World Congress, Detroit, MI, October 23, 2019
  • “Decoding the AdTech Privacy Puzzle,” Panelist, Privacy + Security Forum, Washington, D.C., October 15, 2019
  • “Is mobility data the new oil?” Keynote and moderator, M:bility California, San Jose, CA, September 17, 2019
  • “Data Sharing & Transparency,” Panelist, Connexion Mobility, Chicago, IL, August 8, 2019
  • “Cybersecurity Threats Connected to Autonomous Technologies: Privacy Concerns with EDR and Data Acquisition,” Panelist, ACI Automotive Product Liability Litigation, Chicago, IL, July 18, 2019
  • “Privacy & Consent – What Are the New Requirements for Data Security,” Moderator, TU-Automotive, Detroit, MI, June 5, 2019
  • “The Future of Global Privacy Law:  Issues and Emerging Technologies,” Panelist, Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property Symposium, Chicago, IL, April 4, 2019
  • “When a Regulator Comes Calling,” Presenter, Chicago Bar Association’s Cyber Law & Data Privacy Committee, Chicago, IL, February 19, 2019
  • "The Internet of Things (IoT),” Presenter, Illinois Credit Union League Cybersecurity & Technology Workshop, Naperville, IL, October 30, 2018
  • “Cybersecurity Best Practices: Preventing Liability for Unauthorized Access to Data from Connected and Autonomous Vehicles,” Presenter, Autonomous Vehicle Safety Regulation World Congress, Novi, MI, October 24, 2018
  • “The Growing Data and Mobility Ecosystem,” Panelist, International Association of Privacy Professionals Privacy. Security. Risk. 2018, Austin, TX, October 19, 2018
  • “The Legal Overview for Connected Device Security,” Presenter, 44th General Meeting, Messaging Malware Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group, New York, NY, October 9, 2018
  • “Best Practices for Using and Securing Connected Vehicle Data,” Moderator, Privacy and Security Forum, Washington, DC, October 4, 2018
  • “Cyber/GDPR/Privacy concerns for autonomous vehicles,” Panelist, Autolex: Autonomous Vehicle Legal Forum 2018, Detroit, MI, September 25, 2018
  • "Privacy Ethics: Unauthorized Use of Personal Data," Panelist, NetDiligence Cyber Risk Summit, Philadelphia, PA, June 13, 2018
  • “The Legal Case for Building IoT Devices Securely,” Internet of Things North America 2018, Oak Brook, IL, June 1, 2018
  • "Security and Privacy Implications Relating to Workers Without Borders," Panelist, National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, Pittsburgh, PA, May 2018
  • “Immersion Course: Consumer Law,” Adjunct Co-Professor, Washington University School of Law, St. Louis, MO, March 23-25, 2018
  • "Challenges with Securing Intellectual Property and Trade Secrets," Michigan Manufacturer Association Law Summit, Dearborn, MI, February 22, 2018
  • “Why Privacy Matters,” Panelist, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, November 10, 2017
  • “Cybersecurity Concerns for Autonomous Vehicles,” Panelist, Autolex Automotive Legal Forum, Detroit, MI, November 8, 2017
  • “The Internet of Insecure Things,” Presenter, 4th Annual IT Hacking & Cybersecurity Conference, Chicago, IL, October 25, 2017
  • “Securing IoT Devices & Staying Out of Legal Trouble,” Presenter, Cyber Security Chicago, Chicago, IL, October 18, 2017
  • “Publisher Liability and Regulated Industries,” Presenter, PLI Advertising Law Institute 2017, Chicago, IL, September 15, 2017
  • Federal and State Regulatory, Legislative, and Enforcement Landscape: Changes on the Horizon and Integrating New and Anticipated Initiatives into Your Practice,” Panelist, American Conference Institute’s 15th Advanced Forum on Cyber & Data Risk Insurance, Chicago, IL, March 2017
  • Privacy and Data Security Issues in the World of Big Data,” Presenter, University of Illinois Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance Cyber Defense and Disaster Recovery Conference, Springfield, IL, March 2017
  • The FTC’s Work in Privacy Rights & Data Security,” Presenter, The Institute of Internal Auditors Chicago Chapter 3rd Annual IT Hacking Conference, Chicago, IL, November 2016
  • “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
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