Jason MacLeod is passionate about creating and theorizing at the intersection of technology, human rights, and social justice.
I have a non-traditional academic background that has given me a unique approach to life. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at an early age. I was 13 when my parents took me out of school to be my mother’s primary care giver. I wasn’t home schooled and I never stepped foot in a high school. I taught myself the basic subjects covered in the GED (the U.S. high school equivalency diploma), which I passed at 16. You can see the diploma here. 16 was the age that I moved out on my own (more on the story of my music career later). It was a minute befor I started attending Seattle Central Community College.
Due to my community college grades, the Husky Promise, and the BAVA Endowed Scholarship, I received a full ride to one of the best ranked universities in the world — the University of Washington. There I focused solely on law, human rights, geography, and philosophy. I graduated with a B.A. in Political Science magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Due to my love of the law and subtle ignorance of what law school entailed, I decided to earn a law degree instead of a PhD.
I attended Seattle University School of Law from 2009-2012. I focused on international law, intellectual property law, human rights law, environmental law, and Critical Race Theory. My interest and work was influenced by Postcolonial Theory, Critical Marxist Geography, Critical Legal Theory, and Critical Race Theory. I saw and still see law as a central mechanism enforcing and recreating racism, inequality, injustice, and environmental degradation, so my work deconstructed and critiqued this system while highlighting the economic and legal frameworks that cause animal, environmental, and human suffering. I am incredibly blessed to have studied closely with and have the continued mentorship of one of the founders of Critical Race Theory, and also one of most cited legal scholars in history — Richard Delgado and his lovely wife and co-creator Jean Stefancic. I also worked very closely with civil rights pioneer and the first black tenured professor at both UCLA and Seattle University, Professor Hank McGee. Finally, I wouldn’t have finished law school if it wasn’t for the two year fellowship at the law school’s Films for Justice Institute founded and run by feminist legal scholar Marilyn Berger as well as the stern advice and generous support of legal writing professor Janet Dickson.
After graduating law school, I decided to prepare for a PhD in Geography by attending the University of Oxford. At the time, my work was at the intersection of climate change, environmental justice, race, and international law, so the MSc in Nature, Society, and Environmental Policy was perfect. Oxford’s Geography Department is consistently ranked #1 in the world as well as the university itself. I couldn’t believe that someone like me with a middle school education could attend Oxford.
After realizing the PhD would be yet another four years of school, I finished my education at the Berkeley School of Law in the LL.M program. There, my work focused on environmental law, intellectual property, computer crime, and human rights law. As with Oxford, this was another school consistently ranked the best in the world. After graduating, I had a one year fellowship at the Human Rights Center at the law school. This fellowship, and my colleagues at the Center, specifically Alexa Koenig, changed my life. It was during this time that I saw the power technology has, especially information security and digital rights, in the fight for human and civil rights. The law was just not enough to affect the change I wanted to make in the world. With this realization, I saw my lifelong interest in hacking combine with my legal work.
Since I was a teenager, I have been a hobbyist hacker. Now, I am a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US). During my tenure at the Human Rights Center, I noticed a knowledge gap between technologists, lawyers, activists, and policymakers. To address this gap, I chose to forego the academic and legal track and instead opted to gain hands on experience by working full time in the technology sector. Since 2014, I have worked in both the private and public sectors developing hands-on expertise in applications used for big data visualization, forensics, threat intelligence, user behavior analytics (big data artificial intelligence surveillance), malware analysis, security operations, and penetration testing.
I have helped build comprehensive information security programs at a large medical center and Google. While at Deloitte, I assisted companies (Pfizer, Abbot Industries, Becton Dickinson, Google, Chase Bank, and Analog Industries) with operationalizing or maturing their security programs. These are some of the best security teams in the world with multi-million dollar budgets securing intellectual property in highly regulated industries. While a data privacy and cybersecurity attorney at an AM100 law firm, I specialized in incident response and compliance. For clients of all sizes, I would facilitate and coordinate forensic investigations with our client and forensic firms to ensure attorney-client privilege and determine any and all legal conclusions regarding data breach regulations. My compliance work was mostly U.S. based (HIPAA, FCRA, GLBA, COPPA, and state privacy regulations), but I performed some work with GDPR, PIPL, and BDSG. Additionally, I assisted clients with crisis preparation and communications — Incident Response Plans, Business Continuity Plans, and Disaster Recovery Plans.
My current work at Internews is a blend of both my information security and legal work.
I am an accomplished dj. You can listen to my dj mixes here. I have been exploring clay throwing and hand building over the last several years. I have studied both Chinese and Japanese martial arts. I was an Uchi-Deshi of Aikido Sensei Koichi Barrish of the Kannagara Dojo. Sensei Barrish is an 8th generation Shinto Priest and Head Priest of the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America. I studied Shinobi Gummi Aikijutsu with Sid Woodcock, Baguazhang and O’mei Shan Qigong with Andy Dale, Traditional Yang Style Tajiquan with LeRoy Clark (inner door student of Fu Shen Yuan; the son of Fu Zhongwen), and Tien Shan Qigong with Fook Yeung. My current daily practice, when I’m at my best, consists of Vipassana meditation and Yoga (Hatha, Yin, Restorative, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga). Send me an email, if you’d like to chat!