Anne Toomey McKenna
Distinguished Scholar of Cyberlaw and Policy, Dickinson Law
ICDS Associate and Professor of Practice, Institute for Computational and Data Sciences (ICDS)
J.D., B.A., The Catholic University of America
McKenna on Teaching
The knowledge and experience that flow from over two decades of handling significant exposure litigation and cyberlaw/privacy-related matters for corporate and individual clients as well as continually researching, writing, and updating a leading legal treatise about the rapidly changing subject of law and technology both strongly influence what and how I teach students. Litigation, legislation, technology, and policy in the cyber, data, and information privacy spaces are dynamic legal subjects — fast-paced, stimulating, constantly changing, and challenging.
In the classroom, I share my passion for and knowledge of these subjects with our law students. I teach students to understand cyberspace and cyberlaw by breaking down both the technology and the myriad sources of law that meld together to form the U.S. legal system’s approach to cyber issues, data regulation, and privacy. By using cyberlaw to approach core law school subjects, like civil procedure, torts, contracts, constitutional law, and evidence, through the lens of modern technology, we can fundamentally alter the way students are able to understand the critical and necessary role of law in protecting our society, our citizens, and our democracy in the present day. Teaching the legal, ethical, and policy issues confronting modern society by providing students with an understanding of cyber technology, including behavioral tracking, predictive analytics, AI, robotics, virtual reality, and the issues such technologies pose, empowers and uniquely prepares our Dickinson Law students for what is required in today’s practice of law.
McKenna on Scholarship
I have co-authored the four-volume treatise, Wiretapping & Eavesdropping: Surveillance in the Internet Age, 3rd Ed., as well as its earlier edition, since 1995, and the six-volume treatise, Jones on Evidence, 7th Ed, since 2004. I update both treatises throughout every year and doing so requires extensive research and writing. This constant scholarship compels me to stop, think, learn, and understand how technology is evolving, how the astounding rate of technical evolution affects and alters our society, and how law is (and should) continue to evolve in ways that promote technology while protecting liberties and privacy.
In addition to its in-depth analysis of federal and state electronic surveillance laws, my Wiretapping treatise also includes lengthy chapters and sections on computer hacking laws, state privacy-related legislation, FISA, biometrics, GPS tracking, online tracking, data laws, unmanned aerial surveillance systems and vehicles, computer and cellular searches, thermal imaging, and other enhanced forms of surveillance.
I am currently writing a casebook, Cyberlaw in Practice, under contract for publication in 2019 with Wolters Kluwer, and am in the process of developing, with other units at Penn State and the National Security Administration, a Cyberlaw course that will be taught nationwide.
My scholarship interests and writing subjects also include work on privacy-related legislation, electronic evidence, data laws, information privacy, behavioral tracking and predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual and augmented reality.
McKenna on Service
A juris doctorate degree is a privilege. It equips us with a powerful and precious ability to serve uniquely those most in need. My J.D. has allowed me to serve in a myriad of ways, including: advising educational and religious institutions gratis about legal and institutional compliance requirements, and speech, and privacy law; assisting pro bono victims of revenge porn; providing legal advice gratis to those grappling with online stalking; and educating youth in public and private schools about the permanence and impact of online activities. Two unique pro bono experiences stand out for me because of the positive impact my J.D. had for others: In 2014, I handled, pro bono, an appeal case involving a murder victim’s family sued for engaging in protected speech while searching for their missing love one. My and my law partner’s representation resulted in Connecticut’s Supreme Court reversing, on First Amendment grounds, a judgment against the victim’s family. In the other case, I answered a call from a children’s legal services organization to represent pro bono three abused children in the foster care system who were wrongfully denied settlement monies by a law firm after their mother’s death in a hospital.
When we serve, we learn; and the rewards are far greater than the time our service takes. I challenge my law students to begin using their legal training and their legal interests to serve others for it is through legal service that we truly grasp and appreciate the importance of the rule of law and the role that lawyers play in protecting those most in need.
McKenna on Community
I am an extrovert and, I believe for most of us that community is an essential ingredient to our well-being as humans. Maybe I feel that way because I am the tenth of eleven children (yes, my amazing parents had eleven children!). However, community is not just a thing that some of us are fortunate enough to be born into; community is something we create by connecting, through our daily interactions, with other humans. It is via these connections that we develop, grow, learn and expand ourselves, but most importantly, it is how we build “community” for others.
One of the best things about being a full-time member of a law school is the growth, insight, and wisdom I gain from interacting with and teaching the incredibly diverse array of students that make up the Penn State community.
McKenna’s Engagement with the Profession
Through the last 24 years (how did that happen?) of my professional career as an attorney, an author, and a professor, I have been actively engaged in our profession. I derive pleasure in learning from others in my profession and from helping to educate those inside and outside our legal profession about what the law is. Whether it is participating in seminars, speaking at conferences and on panels, working with media to educate others about the law, it makes me happy to constantly educate and be educated. I feel fortunate that our profession enables both.
The Role of Satellites and Smart Devices: Data Surprises and Security, Privacy, and Regulatory Challenges, 123 Penn St. L. Rev. 591 (2019) (with Amy C. Gaudion and Jenni L. Evans).
“Wiretapping & Eavesdropping: Surveillance in the Internet Age,” 3rd Ed., 2007. (with Clifford S. Fishman)
“Jones on Evidence: Civil and Criminal,” 7th Ed. (with Clifford S. Fishman)
“Cyberlaw Crime Report,” 2004-2008
Pass Parallel Privacy Standards or Privacy Perishes, T., 65 Rutgers L. Rev. 1041, Rutgers Law Review, Summer 2013
McKenna in the Media
Professor McKenna talks to Bloomberg Radio on Yahoo account hacking