Jonathon  Penney

Assistant Professor of Law

Phone: 902-494-4231
Mailing Address: 
Room 435, Weldon Law Building, 6061 University Avenue
PO Box 15000 Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2
Research Topics:
  • Contract Law / E-commerce
  • Intellectual Property
  • Law and Technology
  • Empirical Legal Studies / Interdisciplinary Methods
  • Online Privacy / Surveillance / Security
  • Hacker Culture
  • Human Rights Law
  • Automation/AI and the Law


  • BA, JD (Dalhousie)
  • LLM (Columbia)
  • MST (Oxford)
  • PhD (Oxford)

Bar admissions

  • Ontario
  • New York State


Jon is an Assistant Professor at Schulich School of Law, where he teaches contract law, intellectual property, and technology law, and is the Director of the Law and Technology Institute. He is also a Research Fellow at the Citizen Lab located 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 as of January 2018, a Research Associate of the Civil Servant Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab.

From 2012 to 2015, he was a Berkman 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 and holds a doctorate in “Information, Communication, and the Social Sciences” from the interdisciplinary Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford (Balliol College, 2016).

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.


Research interests

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 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.

Selected awards & honours

  • 2013-present: Program Committee, USENIX Security Symposium's Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI), Washington, DC
  • 2013-present: Research Affiliate, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
  • 2012 - 2013: Berkman Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University
  • 2012 - present: Research Fellow, Citizen Lab & Canada Centre for Global Security Studies, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
  • 2011: Google Policy Fellow, Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
  • 2011: Peter Oliver Prize in Canadian Legal History, Osgoode Society, Law Society of Upper Canada
  • 2009: Fulbright Scholarship, Fulbright Foundation (Columbia University)

Selected publications

Service & activity

  • Member, Law & Technology Institute, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie
  • Member, Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, Toronto
  • Member, InternetNZ, Wellington, New Zealand

Videos & presentations

Jon Penney - "Internet Censorship and the Remembrance of Infowars Past"
February 26, 2013
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Harvard University