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Renowned cyber, privacy law scholar joins Dickinson Law, CyberScience Institute

Posted on June 4, 2018

CARLISLE, PA. — Penn State’s Dickinson Law and the Penn State Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS) have announced the joint appointment of Anne Toomey McKenna as a distinguished scholar of cyber law and policy and professor in practice. McKenna is an attorney and author with more than 24 years of practice experience in cyber, privacy, electronic surveillance and cellular law, and a leading scholar on the challenges and opportunities in the growing field of cyberlaw.

Her joint appointment, which begins July 1, supports Penn State’s strategic focus on interdisciplinary scholarship in the cyber and data privacy fields.

McKenna will teach cyberlaw-related subjects complementing Dickinson Law’s broader initiatives in cyberlaw, data privacy and information security, including the launch of two new certificate programs for juris doctor students — a  certificate in cyberlaw, data privacy and information security and a certificate in corporate compliance, with a concentration in information security — as well as the law school’s recent cybersecurity simulation with the U.S. Army War College.

She will teach “Cyberlaw in Practice,” an innovative course that defines in practical terms what cyberlaw is, explains basic cyber technology platforms, teaches students how manifold sources of law integrate to comprise “cyberlaw,” and then illuminates — through hands-on, real-world examples — how cyberlaw functions across diverse legal practice areas. Students leave the course uniquely prepared to practice law in today’s cyber world.

“The addition of Professor McKenna to Dickinson Law’s faculty expands both the law school’s and ICS’s work in developing Penn State as a leader in the cyberlaw, privacy and data security fields,” Dickinson Law Dean and Professor of Law Gary S. Gildin said. “We are excited to partner with ICS and to add her expertise and wealth of experience to our growing lineup of cyber-related programs and initiatives.”

As an ICS faculty co-hire, McKenna plans to promote new avenues of interdisciplinary research throughout Penn State and build connections with experts outside the University. By working with ICS to coordinate activities and programming, McKenna will share her knowledge with the Penn State community about data and information privacy, data laws, and how the law relates to emerging technologies such as social media. She plans to develop courses and seminars designed for students in all disciplines related to hacking, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and other similar types of technology.

“McKenna is an integral piece to the interdisciplinary effort ICDS is making within the field of law,” said ICDS Director and Professor of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science Jenni Evans. “Through McKenna, ICDS and Penn State will be able to play a larger part in the ever-growing importance of data privacy and cyber policy and law.”

McKenna is a prolific scholar who has engaged in interdisciplinary collaboration across the University’s colleges and units. In her role as an ICDS associate, McKenna has educated University faculty campus-wide about data use, data risks and legal compliance. With significant grant funding from the National Security Agency (NSA), she currently is working with Penn State’s Applied Research Laboratory, the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), ICDS, and Penn State colleague Vice Admiral James W. Houck to draft a cyberlaw course that will be taught to college and graduate students and professionals across the U.S. This is a combined NSA/Penn State effort to develop the next generation cyber workforce.

In May, McKenna and IST faculty created the first-ever joint hacking simulation that brought law and IST students together to witness firsthand how a phishing email cyber hack occurs and what steps are necessary to secure electronic evidence and ensure legal compliance. McKenna also has organized and participated in panel discussions and working group exercises across the University’s various academic units.

McKenna’s two treatises, “Wiretapping & Eavesdropping” and “Jones on Evidence, 7th Ed.,” are widely cited by federal and state courts and relied upon by attorneys, researchers and scholars grappling with cyberlaw, electronic surveillance and evidence issues. Her media presence includes appearances on or quotes in NPR’s “Morning Edition,” The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe, VICE News, Bloomberg Radio, The Intercept, FOX News and CBS News, among others.

Prior to joining Dickinson Law and ICDS, McKenna was a visiting professor at Penn State Law. Before her full-time faculty appointment at the University, McKenna represented large and small businesses, educational clients and individuals in matters involving workplace privacy and surveillance, data practices, data breach and data theft, website privacy policies and terms of use, cellular practices, geolocation tracking, online content and speech, online torts, content take-downs, electronic surveillance statutory claims, and privacy.

She has consulted with government officials about wiretapping, computer and cellular searches, geolocation tracking, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). McKenna also served as the principal legal consultant for the Police Foundation and the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services on the use of UAVs by domestic law enforcement.


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