Jon Penney is a legal academic and social scientist. In addition to teaching law as an assistant professor at Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University in Canada, he is presently a Research Fellow at the Citizen Lab based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, a Research Affiliate of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, and a Research Associate of the Civil Servant Project at the MIT Media Lab, which pursues citizen science toward a safer, fairer, better internet.
From 2012 to 2015, he was a Fellow and then Research Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, he has studied law at Columbia Law School as a Fulbright Scholar and at Oxford as a Mackenzie King Scholar. He holds a doctorate in “Information, Communication, and the Social Sciences” from the interdisciplinary Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford (Balliol College, 2015).
During his studies at Oxford, Jon was a SSHRC Doctoral Fellow and Canadian Centennial Scholar at Balliol College and a Google Policy Fellow at the Citizen Lab, where he worked on an Open Net Initiative transparency project to encourage corporate transparency about government and law enforcement data requests. He was also Project Coordinator for the Privacy Value Networks Project, a large scale, multi-university, multi-million dollar Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) (UK) funded research project focused on understanding data privacy, and building tools and systems to promote it, through systematic empirical research involving law, regulation, and behavioral science at the Oxford Internet Institute.
Jon’s research lies at the intersection of law, technology, and human rights, with strong empirical, interdisciplinary, and social science dimensions. From the Internet today to artificial intelligence and beyond tomorrow, his work aims to understand technology’s role in public and private sector censorship, surveillance, and other emerging legal/regulatory practices—like the increasing automation of legal processes—including how people’s rights, interests, and activities are impacted. His doctoral thesis explored regulatory chilling effects online through a series of empirical legal case studies exploring how regulatory actions like online copyright enforcement or surveillance impact or “chill” people activities online.
His work has received widespread international attention and press coverage, including the Washington Post, Reuters International, New York Times, Newsweek, TIME Magazine, NBC News, Forbes, Psychology Today, Le Monde, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Freitag, Il Fatto Quotidiano, The Times of India, Indian Express, Jerusalem Post, Russia Today, Huffington Post, Politico, Slate, Motherboard, The Hill, The Index on Censorship, as well as coverage by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept.
Jon teaches classes in contract law, intellectual property, and technology law at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law.
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